The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

by Junot Díaz

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What are the conflicts in chapter 3 of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao? Are they internal, external? Human versus nature? What are the major actions that happen in this chapter? What are the major themes in this chapter?

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The third chapter of Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao focuses on the backstory of Lola and Oscar’s mother, Beli. The chapter begins by relating Beli’s school days. Beli goes through typical conflicts of a young girl who is struggling to fit in and grow up. Beli becomes rather boy-crazy, but as she matures, this becomes more of a problem, because Beli is quite well endowed. The boys like her in return, and this gets her into trouble.

Beli experiences class conflict when Jack becomes her lover but only in secret because he is of a higher social class. When they are caught, he lies about their relationship.

Beli continues to grow, and she experiences conflict within herself as she longs for more independence. She takes a job as a waitress, and this leads to conflict with her foster mother. Her mother is even more horrified when Beli becomes involved with “the Gangster.” He is a married man and the brother of the dictator as well. When Beli becomes pregnant, she finds herself in major trouble. She is severely beaten and miscarries the baby.

When Beli is lying in the field after the beating, she experiences another internal conflict as she struggles to survive and receives the revelation that she must for the sake of the two children she will someday have. Beli is rescued, but her mother has to send her to New York for her own safety.

We can see both internal and external conflicts in this chapter, then, as Beli struggles with the realities of growing up and the difficulties and dangers of relationships. Herein lie the chapter’s primary themes as well. These include poor decisions and their consequences, the desire for love (and the problem of looking for it in the wrong places), and the brutality and oppression faced by people under a dictatorship.

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