Study Guide

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

by Junot Diaz

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Quotes

Essential Quotes

Essential Quotes by Character: Oscar de Leon

Essential Passage 1: Chapter 1

I’m not entirely sure Oscar would have liked this designation. Fukú story. He was a hardcore sci-fi and fantasy man, believed that that was the kind of story we were all living in. He'd ask: What more sci-fi than the Santo Domingo? What more fantasy than the Antilles?

But now that I know how it all turns out, I have to ask, in turn: What more fukú?

Summary
Yunior, Oscar’s best friend and college roommate, introduces the reader to Oscar and his story. Yunior explains the concept of fukú, which is a curse that is believed in the Dominican Republican. This curse allegedly comes to all Dominicans at one time or another, having been brought over from Europe by Christopher Columbus. The tragedy of the curse runs through the story of Oscar. Although he was born in Paterson, New Jersey, the island nation draws him repeatedly, as it had his mother and grandparents, whose lives are damaged or destroyed by the fukú. Oscar, however, is more of a believer in the promise of science fiction and fantasy. In fact, his whole life is based on fantasy narratives like The Lord of the Rings. Overweight and viewed as a “nerd,” Oscar lives a life of loneliness, always on the lookout for an opportunity for love. Yet the fukú curse follows him, betraying his love and his dreams.

Essential Passage 2: Chapter 4

...Halloween he made the mistake of dressing up as Doctor Who, was real proud of his outfit too. When I saw him on Easton, with two other writing-section clowns, I couldn’t believe how much he looked like that fat homo Oscar Wilde, and I told him so. You look just like him, which was bad news for Oscar, because Melvin said, Oscar Wao, quién es Oscar Wao, and that was it, all of us started calling him that: Hey, Wao, what you doing? Wao, you want to get your feet off my chair?

Summary
As Oscar leaves the emotional torture of high school for the promise of happiness at college, he nevertheless continues to be isolated because of his obsession with works of science fiction and fantasy. Still overweight, Oscar remains the butt of many jokes, both for his appearance as well as for his fantasy fixation. Yunior becomes Oscar’s roommate as a favor to Oscar’s sister, Lola. Yunior has a strong but unrequited crush on Lola, and he vacillates between trying to protect Oscar and participating in the teasing. On Halloween, Oscar dresses up as the character Doctor Who from a long-running British television program, wearing a long topcoat and flamboyant bow tie. Instead of looking like Doctor Who, he resembles the British writer Oscar Wilde, who dressed flamboyantly and was considered a "notorious" homosexual. The physical similarity combined with the similarity of names leads others to call him “Oscar Wao,” a deliberate mispronunciation of “Oscar Wilde.” It is from this cruel teasing that Oscar gets the name in the novel’s title.

Essential Passage 3: Chapter 4

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(The entire section is 1329 words.)

Essential Quotes by Theme: Love

Essential Passage 1: Chapter 1

Poor Oscar. Without even realizing it he’d fallen into one of those Let’s-Be-Friends Vortexes, the bane of nerdboys everywhere. These relationships were love’s version of a stay in the stocks, in you go, plenty of misery guaranteed and what you got out of it besides bitterness and heartbreak nobody knows. Perhaps some knowledge of self and of women.

Perhaps.

Summary
When Oscar was a child, he was considered cute; by the age of seven, he was even fairly successful at attracting girls. Forced to choose between two of them—Maritza, who was beautiful, and Olga, who shared his interests—he cruelly dumped Olga and chose the lovely Maritza. Quickly after this fateful choice, however, he saw Maritza with another boy. Heartbroken, Oscar began to gain weight until in high school he averaged three hundred pounds. When he later befriends Ana, he begins to gain self-confidence. But Ana has a boyfriend and is only interested in friendship. Willing to settle for friendship (at least for the moment), Oscar continues to see Ana as much as he can, all the while resenting her boyfriend. Because his intense interest in science fiction and role-playing games makes Oscar an outcast, it is rare that Oscar has even a friendship with a girl, so he is not about to relinquish it with Anna. He hopes that it might possibly blossom into something more.

Essential Passage 2: Chapter 7

In the middle of the street he told her how it was. He told her that he was in love with her and that he’d been hurt but now he was all right and if he could just have a week alone with her, one short week, then everything would be fine in him and he would be able to face what he had to face and she said I don’t understand and so he said it again, that he loved her more than the Universe and it wasn’t something that he could shake so please come away with me for a little while, lend me your strength and then it be over if she wanted.

Summary
On a trip to the Dominican Republic, Oscar falls in love with a prostitute named Ybón, who is not only several years older than Oscar, but is also the girlfriend of a Dominican police officer attached to the Trujillo regime. Because Oscar will not leave Ybón alone (who accepts Oscar as a friend only), he is beaten severely by some of Trujillo’s henchmen. Taken back home to New Jersey to recover by his family, Oscar eventually returns to the Dominican Republic for a final time to find Ybón and explain to her how much he loves her. Yet she rejects his love, mainly because of the danger it would put both herself and Oscar in. Oscar begs to have just one week with her. If she can give him that, he can truly be healed of his physical and emotional injuries. Ybón does have some level of affection for him beyond friendship, but she still insists that he leave or else she will call her policeman boyfriend. Reluctantly, Oscar leaves.

Essential Passage 3: Chapter 7

They walked him into the cane and then turned him around. He tried to stand bravely. (Clives they left tied up in the cab and while they had their backs turned he slipped into the...

(The entire section is 1366 words.)