What is the contrast between The Great Gatsby and The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Diaz?  

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both Oscar and Gatsby die from a romantic, idealized, unrequited love.  But, Gatsby is more of a Byronic hero, wounded by love, whereas Oscar is more of a tragic hero, wounded by his family's history.  Oscar martyrs himself; he dies to end the curse (fuku), whereas Gatsby's death is senseless.

Both Oscar and Gatsby are survived by narrators (Junior and Nick) who pay homage to them through the narrative.  But, Nick is more tied to hip with Gatsby, and he constructs Gatsby as he constructs himself through the story.  In Oscar Wao, Junior dislikes Oscar through much of the narrative, and Junior's sarcastic, macho voice becomes transformed by Oscar's death.  In the end, whereas Nick goes home out of disgust, Junior becomes a better man because of Oscar; he matures and goes forward with his teaching and writing career.

Gastby is the great American WASP novel: it is a critique of the old world American double-standards of class and race.  (Tom is racist; the novel is anti-Semitic).  But, Oscar Wao is the great American Immigrant novel: it lambasts the old world (the DR), but it never forsakes it.  The novel reaches a better assimilated vision of America: "either I'm nobody or a nation."

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The Great Gatsby

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