Oscar Wao - Immigrant, Outsider, Hero
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The early description of Oscar Wao presents him as a self-loathing dweeb, disastrously overweight ghetto nerd and his ambition is to be a science fiction writer, the Dominican J.R.R Tolkien. His only pleasure seems to be reading books and rewriting in his words. The three characteristics have different meanings with the term “immigrant” and “outsider” having negative connotations while “hero’’ is usually regarded to be with positive connotation. Oscar Wao whose background is said to be multigenerational seems to possess all the three characteristics although his heroic quality will be discussed according to what he considers in his life to be heroic. The main aim of this paper is to discuss how Oscar Wao, a character in the book The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao embodies the characteristics of the immigrant, outsider, and hero and the relationship between them.
Oscar Wao an Immigrant,
The star’s immigrant nature is implied by his love of the Twilight Zone episode in which a white kid who is described as monstrous rules over a town which is shown to be in complete isolation from the other part of the world. However, this immigrant nature seems to be at odds to him being more of an outsider since he does not fit in the fantasy world either, just as he does not fit at home. He is said to be a virgin yet the Dominican culture holds that “sex is the one thing that …never goes away” (Lingan, N.p)
Oscar Wao background is said to be one of a multigenerational immigrant origin when the family roots are traced. He is an immigrant both in his own country part as well as the new country and this also complements the idea of him being an out outcast. He is brought up in an immigrant enclave who is not appreciated by his parents and therefore he is treated “inhuman cheeriness” in college by the whites in his school. He is a mess since everybody around him treats him like so by both verbal and physical abuses.
Oscar Wao as an Outsider
Oscar is an outsider at school since he does not like outdoor activities just like other kids such as working on a gym which he finds so offended of. Oscar’s outsider status is also demonstrated in his rare dream of becoming a science fiction writer and the fantasy world which interests him all throughout his life. Through his reading habit implies his constant interactions with icons of the world and this habit results to his inability to fit into both his present wrld he does not also fit anywhere else. His heroic nature makes him be as an outcast and weird with regards to social norms. He uses a funny language in communication which although does not make him look funny but seem to relate to his outsider world and while enjoying the god-like fantasy (Hanna, 520,583)
He seems to be overwhelmed by a life of humiliation and perpetual embarrassment as a result of his being an outsider which is brought about being a virgin and not loved by almost everyone especially girls. The later even makes him to engage in a love affair with a prostitute, a practice detested in the society. His intelligence, unlikeable physical appearance and also his nerdness makes him to an outsider and this parallels him as the immigrant.
Oscar Wao as a Hero
As a hero, Oscar Wao does manage to distinguish himself from the rest of the population from an early age although his power and strengths which are supposed to make him more unique could not be clearly spelt out during his childhood stage. He could tremble at the mention of a gym for he hated exercise and outdoor activities and because of this extreme nerdiness he is mistaken to lack of masculinity. He really wants love but unfortunately there is constant rejection of his romantic overtures and this failure, at least from a literal judgment does not describe a heroic character. Oscar says that he would not be a “fatboy” or a “dock” or a kid which no girl dad ever loved and that he would be a hero and an avenger. He also believed that whatever he dreamt to be that indeed he would be Seaman (Seaman N.p),
Oscar is also a hero since he had always wanted to be on the ‘other side’ where he strived to transcend his life as a fat nerd, never loved by anyone and where he had the fulfillment of his dreams. He chooses to spend his life with the comics, Dragons and Dungeons in a culture which expects him to be a highly sexual dynamo and masculine. This is in agreement to the author’s pronouncement that there hero was not among those Dominican cats who everybody always go on about. The inevitable death in the cane field is the only way to be on the “other side” He is seen putting his hands up as a gesture of his surrender to his own death and this is what manifests his power as a hero (Hanna, 498).
From Joseph Campbell's ideas from The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Oscar possesses the qualities that characterize him as a hero from the beginning. While in his ordinary world, he feels uneasy and uncomfortablee about almost everything ranging from his being fat, unlovable to not being outgoing. There is a call to adventure since he is seen to read and write most of the time as a way of interacting with icons of the world. Oscar seems to have something deep within marking a change is about to begin.
Immigrant, Outsider and Hero Characteristics
From the literal meaning to referred to in the book “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” immigrant means outside of his country of origin while still differs from one’s new environment, the outsider does not fit into whatever they want to belong to and a hero, due to his power which others lack, differs from the rest of the population (“hero's journey”, N.p). The characteristics are embodied in Oscar Wao in one way or another. The characteristics are quite related since they make Oscar different from the rest of the community. However, the level in which each of them manifests itself in Oscar life defines his general description as immigrant, outsider or hero.
The heroic nature of Oscar is paired with the nature of being an immigrant as seen when Oscar attempts to escape his life through different fantasy worlds which at the same time depicts his experience as an immigrant. He is an immigrant and an outsider, negative characteristics which seem to complement each other. He is also a hero in his own view and this is also uncommonly complemented by the two negative complements. The immigrant roots of Oscar are depicted as that of which contrasts the parents’ culture against that which surrounds them (Lingan, N.p)
The author of the book “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”, Junot Diaz, has presented Oscar Wao as an immigrant since he finds himself focusing constantly in a fantasy world while he does not like his immediate environment. He is also treated like one since his child due to his antisocial behavior both at school and even until he dies. He does not respect his culture and common believes especially maintaining his virginity till very mature. Although his mind is engraved in a fantasy world, he is not also acceptable there. The he holds onto of becoming the Dominican J.R.R Tolkien are the initial signs of Oscar dreaming to be a hero in addition to be a science fiction writer. His beliefs that dying without having anybody ever loved him are heroic. He uses a language which only uplifts him to a god-like status. Therefore, Oscar is an immigrant, outsider and a hero both by nature and by his own making.
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