The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

by Junot Díaz
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What is Yunior's way and style of speaking in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao? For many readers, Yunior's way of speaking is engaging and fun; for others, it is oppressive, a kind of blanket we can't get out from under. "Style is the man" is an old expression that rings true. How does Yunior's way of speaking characterize him, his view of the world, and the story he tells?

Yunior's style of speaking slowly changes as the second half of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao progresses. Yunior transitions from street and semi-street speech to a sober, nearly formal style at the end of the novel, when he relates Oscar's death.

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Yunior is Oscar Wao’s best friend. He is also the narrator in many of Junot Diaz’s short stories in Drown and This Is How You Lose Her.

Oscar is the novel’s protagonist . At once brilliant, caustic, and eccentric, Oscar is obsessed with taking violent revenge on everyone...

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Yunior is Oscar Wao’s best friend. He is also the narrator in many of Junot Diaz’s short stories in Drown and This Is How You Lose Her.

Oscar is the novel’s protagonist. At once brilliant, caustic, and eccentric, Oscar is obsessed with taking violent revenge on everyone and everything whom he considers to have molested his homeland—Americans and Dominicans alike.

Yunior’s style is different in this novel than it was in Diaz’s short stories. Diaz combines all kinds of styles in creating Yunior’s narration of Oscar’s story. Once Oscar becomes a student at Rutgers and is a misfit in just about everything, harassed and hazed by other students, Yunior appears as his protector, challenging the tormentors. That is when the speaking style changes, from “street” to “semi-street,” and subsequently to a nearly formal English.

The novel ends with Yunior’s voice, less street, almost sober:

And yet there are other days, when I’m downtrodden or morose, when I find myself at my desk late at night, unable to sleep, flipping through (of all things) Oscar’s dog-eared copy of Watchmen. One of the few things that he took with him on the Final Voyage that we recovered. The original trade. I flip through the book, one of his top three, without question, to the last horrifying chapter: “A Stronger Loving World.” To the only panel he’s circled. Oscar—who never defaced a book in his life—circled one panel three times in the same emphatic pen he used to write his last letters home.

We have come full circle, so to speak. What began as an aggressive—even offensive—style ends quietly and somberly.

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