Why does the narrator switch to first person in the second chapter when writing about lola?Yunior is obviously the narrator but it changes at certain points.  What is the purpose and name of this...

Why does the narrator switch to first person in the second chapter when writing about lola?

Yunior is obviously the narrator but it changes at certain points.  What is the purpose and name of this style of writing?

Expert Answers
mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The answer is found in the quote preceding the book: "either I'm nobody or I'm a nation."  Obviously, the answer is "a nation," and we have multiple narrators--a nation, if you will--to reflect this duality and multiculturalism.

The primary narrator is Yunior.  But it seems that there are two Yunior narrators in the novel.  The Yunior narrator of the "Rutgers" chapters is very different from the narrator of chapter 1, for example.  The Rutgers Yunior curses much more, displays more machismo, uses fewer footnotes.  It seems this is the young, impetuous pre-Oscar Yunior: the bodybuilding knucklehead.  The chapter 1 narrator, who later identifies himself as "The Watcher," is a more mature Yunior, the teacher, the writer, the post-Oscar narrator who has a sense of history.

Lola must narrate chapter 2 to give a multiple perspective of Oscar and Beli.  She is a foil for Oscar, Yunior, and her mother.  Remember, Lola will later date Yunior, so that's how Yunior (who frames the entire novel) knows so much of the inside family history.  Diaz uses second person to show a feminine side, a de Leon side to the novel.  The reader can trust Lola more than Yunior, who is a kind of Greek Chorus (he observes, then participates, then observes, etc...).  Plus, the Rutgers Yunior is a bit unreliable.

Also, Lola's chapter is told in first and second person to show how the fuku is continued.  Diaz moves backward in the family history.  With each new character shows a continuation of the curse.  We think each one is its originator, only to find a parent to have passed it on.  We start with Oscar, then Lola, then Beli, then Abelard: a reverse family tree.

Read the study guide:
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

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