The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Analysis Example
In The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Diaz educates about traditional gender norms and ways of living in a Latin-American society. He indicates that a typical Dominican male should be a tough, promiscuous, and an aggressive male human being. Men in the Dominican Republic assert their power using fear and other tactics to get what they want in life. As for Oscar, that macho-man attitude did not click for him; therefore, he could not gain anything in life unlike the others in Junot Diaz’s book. But what ideas does Junot Diaz portray when it comes to female sexuality in his book? The feminine gender roles played upon by Lola de Leon, and Belicia Cabral display what they did, or did not do using femininity and sexuality to their advantage.
The characteristics that define Lola and Belicia are almost identical. They both embody each other even though Belicia is Lola’s mom and older. Both show stubbornness that leads to rebelling and leaving their mom’s household. Lola runs away to gain freedom and Belicia just wants love. Both mom and daughter grew up not being ugly or unattractive, they were actually “lookers”. Puberty hit both girls really well and to their advantage, they took it. While both had the same physical structure, both did not have the same goal in mind. Belicia was looking to marry a man in the Dominican Republic and Lola was using her body to leave the house, under Belicia’s rule. They both participated in acts that built on their self-esteem as Long and Martinez have stated. They said, “Research suggests that women face unique challenges both with self-esteem, valuing oneself based on perceived strengths, and with self-acceptance, valuing one-self regardless of perceived shortcomings” (Long).
One night when Belicia, Oscar, and Lola were having dinner, Belicia says she is gravely ill, and the doctor has to run more tests on her. As a way to show disrespect, Lola asks, “can you pass the salt” and Belicia smacks her hand. Lola then runs away after their argument and moves in with Aldo, her boyfriend at the time. When Lola was at Aldo’s place, accompanied by his rude father, she said she wanted to have sex. She states,
That night while we lay in Aldo’s sweltering kitty-litter-infested room I told him: I want you to do it to me. He started unbuttoning my pants. Are you sure? Definitely I said grimly. He had a long, thin dick that hurt like hell, but the whole time I just said, Oh yes, Aldo, yes, because that was what I imagined you were supposed to say while you were losing your “virginity” to some boy you thought you loved. (Diaz 64)
It seems like she did not enjoy what was going on. The first time anyone has sex, it is supposed to be just right and not because a guy is letting you live with him. She used her body to get what she wanted. She felt inclined and ultimately lost her virginity to Aldo because she was living with him. To her, sex is seen as an everyday occurrence like brushing your teeth and not a special romantic moment between two lovers.
The narrator of the book is named Yunior, which is also Oscar’s college roommate at Rutgers University in Brunswick, New Jersey. Yunior was trying to change Oscar for the better and Oscar just did not want to change his ways. At one point in the book, Yunior ended up in a hospital and Lola decided to visit him and gave him a sponge bath. He fell “in love” with her. He wanted to go out with her for a while. She was skeptical of course due to his rocky background with females. They eventually date later on. Yunior admires Lola’s strength, determination, and willingness to be independent. He knows that Lola wants respect from him and others. And that is female sexuality in play. That is what femininity is all about according to Lola. Even though her freedom was short lived, it still shows that she has the power to get what she wants in life. Using her mind and sexuality to her advantage for power.
Belicia, Lola’s mom, had a dad who was a doctor and a mom who was a nurse. She was sent to a good private school named, “El Redentor”, on a scholarship by La Inca, her aunt. She had a tough time growing up. She was placed with a foster family and later lived with La Inca, her aunt. She was working at a bakery and going to school. She absolutely did not like it. She wanted to run out of her slow paced life and leave her aunt. While attending school, she admires Jack Pujols and has her attention pointed to him; instead, of her studies. She goes away for summer vacation and comes back with curves. Finally, Jack Pujols notices Belicia (because of her big breasts), and they begin to have sex on school campus, in the broom closet. Their short relationship ended with them being caught and Pujols being sent to military school in Puerto Rico. That was the time she lost her virginity, in a broom closet!
After the whole ordeal with Jack Pujols, she refuses to attend school and starts working at Palacio Peking, a Chinese restaurant. One of the waitresses that worked there, was named Constantina, invited Belicia to go dancing at “El Hollywood”. They buy matching dresses and dance at the club. While at the club, a man approached her and tries to buy her a drink. She said, “No me toques”, and throws her drink, and her purse at the man. The man is called, “the Gangster”. A week later, Belicia goes back to El Hollywood and asks the Gangster to dance. They go out, with him buying her gifts and going to the best restaurants. She ends up realizing she loves him and they both go on vacation to Samana. She winds backup in the Dominican Republic, pregnant. Long story short, the Gangster has a wife that is Dictator Trujillo’s sister. Belicia is grabbed by two men, beat pretty bad, and taken to a cane field to die. She does not die.
The reason Diaz uses Belicia as an example of female sexuality in his book, is because she uses her body to get gifts and love from the Gangster. Zurndorfer, the author of Men, Women, Money, and Morality: The Development of China’s Sexual Economy, Stated,
The sexual economy is dominated by wealthy and politically influential men who consume femininity and sexuality. In exchange, women receive material comfort and financial security… China’s sexual economy may be defined in part by the idea that Chinese women trade their youthful attractiveness for wealth… exchange of a woman’s femininity and physical beauty for real estate, luxury goods, and cash. (Zurndorfer)
The whole time she was going out with the Gangster, she wanted a family. She used her body as a form of currency to get the Gangster to love her. It did not work, due to the fact that the Gangsters wife, knew about their relationship and someone set up her beating and dumping in a cane field. She also had two guys begging for an ounce of her love. One guy named Archie and an older bald car dealer. Diaz states, “Both of these dudes Beli played hard” (Diaz 111). Basically saying that Belicia had power over these two individuals because all they wanted was to sleep with her, but she never slept with them.
In conclusion, Junot Diaz portrays both Lola and Belicia as sexually attractive and power seeking individuals. Lola has legs and hips that no man can resist and Belicia has breasts that no man can pass up either. The typical acts of machismo contribute to the way a female uses her sexuality, to fulfill the needs of oneself. While accomplishing different goals, Lola seeks freedom from Belicia and Belicia seeks love from any man she can get her hands on, they both have the same tendency of behavior when it comes to how and to what lengths they will go to fulfill their objectives.
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