Free Custom «Identity and Society: "The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao"» Essay Sample
Table of Contents
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- Conflict and Tension between Community Identities
- Struggle for Independent and Individual Identity
- Love and Sexuality
- Generational Tension, Socioeconomic Class, and Community
- Related Free Analysis Essays
The exotic and untraditional character of the book, Oscar, The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, cannot leave someone be indifferent toward the problems and ideas of the novel. However, it is not a traditional story as the comic and funny events are presented in the background of tragic aspect of one family life and their broken hearts. Junot Díaz is emigrant of the Dominican Republic, and he observes his tragedy from the point of emigrant Oscar and his friend Yunior. A novel has a form of narration, told by these two boys. The setting of the book is the Republic as the homeland of the hero and the United States, New Jersey. The first place of their life is associated with fear and desperate, and the second is related to some prejudices and fight for their identity. Their life evokes a mixture of emotions and feelings because of the variety of motives and themes presented through both symbolic and real explanations. Thus, on the background of one family of emigrants, the author explores the problem of diaspora, projecting the issue for the entire nation in the aspect of racial and ethnical identity, masculinity, sexuality, gender, socioeconomic factor, love, and foreignness.
Conflict and Tension between Community Identities
The feelings of the secondary people in America happen as a result of tension and community identity conflict. All family members understand that they are different from the other people, and they will never assimilate, as their national identity is a part of their nature, which is visible in every detail of their behavior and, especially, their language. However, this conflict is more important and serious for Oscar as he feels as the foreigner in America is different from children in the Dominican Republic. Oscar experiences the same feelings, problems, and ideas that the other children in the United States experience. Moreover, Oscar feels more sympathy for the children in America than to the children in his native country. The conflict and tension between the identities happen when the family starts their life in the United States, and it happens again when they visit the Dominican Republic. The problem is that people feel outsiders, different and secondary, living in the United States as in the foreign country. Nevertheless, they lose their identity and transform into different people who become different even in their native land. The conflict is the loss of identity when a human does not attain nationality of America but loses Dominican identity. They are strangers in the United States yet, and they are not identical in the Dominical Republic already. The tension is related to their racial and ethnical peculiarities. The family has to leave the country, because they are afraid of the dictator, and they can be killed. However, they feel not only sad and nostalgia for their native country but also face discrimination in the foreign one. For instance, when Lola leaves Santo Domingo, one man tells her that this city will always be there (Diaz 210). However, the narrator does not support this conception as Lola sees that Santo Domingo has changed significantly from time she left it. The tension and conflict between the identities are presented in the idea of foreignness, as the emigrants are foreign in both native and foreign country.
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Struggle for Independent and Individual Identity
The story depicts not only the struggle for Dominican identity but for American identity either, as it depicts fundamental aspects of society in America. The main heroes of the story try to find the essence of their identity and define whether they are Americans or Dominicans. The struggle of a personality for individual identity is presented in the individuality of Oscar. He is Dominican. However, not all of his features confirm it. From his young age, he associates Dominicans with explicit sexual energy in every detail of their character. The Dominican man is sexual and attractive. Oscar believes and adheres to this idea, which not only forms some stereotype in his mind about the man on his native land, but also makes him feel miserable and diminished. Self-respect and lowered self-worth become the consequences of his personal struggle for identity. Diaz characterizes him as a person who was not one of those Dominicans, who had luck with girls (45). On the background of the personal Oscar’s struggle, the identity of Americans is also represented. People tend to form its universal form of traditional American with all the prejudices, norms, rules, and standards in order to feel themselves Americans. The collective identity is more essential than individual. Consequently, the main characters of the novel resist the struggle with not only rough and stereotypic oppressions of Dominican nation but also confront American cultural aspects. The other argument of every day struggle is faith in fuku as the stereotype of fear. Bad luck and destiny associate with fuku as the driving issues of it. However, it is disobedience to social norms. Not fuku is responsible for all the problems but impossibility of the human to perform the entire social standard. Therefore, the heroes are always afraid of it. The third essential factor of the struggle for identity is a formation of the language. It is important to mention that Oscar speaks Spanish, but little bit later he mixes two languages, Spanish and English, forming something new, which is nor American neither Dominican. Spanglish in the text presents the idea that this form of language is understandable for both nations, but this struggle is represented even in the cultural aspect. This confrontation is a consequence of the Diaspora life.
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Diaspora is a complicated notion as it represents the essence of this struggle for identity and losses in this encounter. The notion of diaspora in contest of Oscar’s life is more than a struggle, it is a component of formation a personality, as he understands that he cannot be American being born as Dominican, and the society does not want to accept him because he is belonging to diaspora. However, he cannot be Dominican as he loses peculiarities of Dominican living in diaspora. In other words, the problem of diaspora is represented in the book as a segregation issue, which encloses individuals who do not belong nor to one nation neither to the other one. “What she doesn’t yet know: the cold, the backbreaking drudgery of the factorias the loneliness of Diaspora (Diaz 164). For instance, the character of Yunior is a representative of this affirmed diaspora within America. He is not American and not Dominican, but he assimilated to such life and tries even to help Oscar to live accordingly. However, Oscar cannot be America-Dominican. His inability to live in not identified condition without national belonging leads to his death. The death of Oscar is caused by domains of sexuality and masculinity as the main features created by oppressive societies. Thus, diaspora is not just a group of people who live in a foreign country and cherishes their national tradition, but a zone of reservation from the perspective of Diaz, which protects people from oppressive society. Oscar tries to find his identity through love.
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Love and Sexuality
Love is the main purpose of the hero’s life. It is associated not only with strong desire to experience a deep feeling but also with the desire to find someone who will be able to love Oscar in his full essence. Actually, he hates himself and wants to have a girl who can love him instead of him. The first disappointment and step to suicide is Anna. The girl likes Oscar for his character and behavior, but she does not comprehend him as a man in romantic perspective. Anna considers Oscar just as a friend. He believes that this is a serious loss for him as he is not comprehended as a Dominican, and he is not sexual. The fear to die virgin is rationalized as the absence of national essence as well as American respect toward him. Ybo’n is a true love of Oscar, though she is a prostitute. She lives in Dominican Republic, and their love is forbidden. Despite all the obstacles, he is ready to risk for her and to live a short life being happy and feeling his identity instead of long life without it. The problem is identification of love in Oscar’s mind, which is constructed due to social prejudices and stereotypes. His love is shaped by expectations of the culture and ethnical aspects. True love and intimacy are confused in the consciousness of young men Oscar and Yunior. While Oscar tries to find someone to love him, Yunior uses women and betrays a beloved girl. Nevertheless, they both try to confirm their identity as Americans being Dominicans, as the inherited realms of Dominican Republic breaks their consciousness and healthy understanding of love. Totalitarian order leads to total control over the person. Therefore, Yunior finds his identity in such a way, spoiling life of the women and use them sexually. The themes of the identity and love are related, but the author also wants to reveal the essence of love, as the romantic relations are the driving force of the novel. Diaz confirms the idea that to love a human means to approach to the possibility to lose this person. Moreover, love is always associated with fear to be alone and to experience ultimate pain (Diaz 45). These conceptions are unique for both nations, without some social differences. Consequently, love helps not only to find identity but also to unite people without racial, ethnic prejudices. Love is a source to suppress all emotions of hate and tension within the family.
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Generational Tension, Socioeconomic Class, and Community
The tension between the generations is represented in relations of children Oscar and Lola with their mother Beli. In fact, Beli is presented as a strong but evil woman. Her firm character was formed under the pressure of totalitarian culture in Dominican Republic. This aspect of her pressure on the children is invisible for her, because she is not only the victim of totalitarianism but also social product of it. The spiteful features of her are not inherited, but they are cultivated in society of native land. In addition to it, she tries to model that tradition in her personal family, creating a tension and pressure over her children as the head of the family. Beli is too Dominican to be American. While Lola and Oscar are not ready to suffer from her suppression. Although they do not attain their individual identity, they refuse to live in accordance to Dominican tendencies, therefore, they become diaspora. Among presented conflicts of Oscar with the societies and with his personality, he is within the conflict between the generations.
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Aside from these problems, Oscar involves in the conflict of communities and socioeconomic classes. When Oscar cannot find true love within his community, he tends to find it in different social classes. He falls in love with the prostitute. The problem of Oscar becomes a central idea of the novel that exemplifies idea that all people are able to love, and it is indifferent for everyone despite different social, material, racial and other aspects. However, people define some stereotypes and prejudices, which are socially motivated. This issue not only brakes human destiny but also inserts some barriers between the communities. People are born free from all the social and ethnical peculiarities. People, who cannot find their place in the world, tend to migrate, create diasporas, and live separately because aggressive and suppressive social resistance. That is why the main hero creates his work, his fiction stories as the attempt to live in a separate world. Depressive condition of the boy influences his health, which is shown in his attitude toward food and extra weight. This book is a message of an immigrant not only for the diaspora but also for all Americans. People indicate the borders between cultures, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic standard, and other elements. The novel encloses absolutely opposite domains such as, love and hate, friendship and brutality, democracy of America and totalitarianism of Dominican Republic and many others. The problem of this opposition is social, because the society creates obstacles and limitations for people to feel free everywhere in the world, to be special without any prejudices and standards, and to feel happy about it. It is necessary to assume that identification of personal identity through social pressure leads to complicated struggle, which can end in depression and even suicide.
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In conclusion, the book by Diaz exemplifies social issues on the example of one family of emigrants. He explores the problems of ethnical relations, love, hate, family tensions, outside pressure of community and prejudices of it. Oscar Wao is a tragic character who tends to define his personal identity and leads complicated struggle with himself, with society of America, with society of Dominican Republic and with class differences. Love is a method to find identity and to attain respect. Diaspora, in the perspective of the Diaz’s book, is a physical and spiritual location of people who tend to preserve native identity being partly assimilate to foreign culture.
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