The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a fictional novel by Junot Diaz. The book chronicles the lives of its main characters in two contexts, New Jersey in America and the Dominican Republican. The main character in the book is Oscar Wao, an obese boy growing up in New Jersey who is obsessed with fantasy and science fiction books as week as falling in love. Oscar is also obsessed with a curse has he believes has plagued his family for many years. The book also features a host of other characters with one of them being Yunior who is Oscar’s friend and roommate in college (and also the narrator of the most of the story). Other characters include Oscar’s sister, Lola, his mother Beli and his grandfather Abelard. One standout feature is regard to the characters in the novel is that most of them have split personalities. The characters have multiple personalities because they are experiencing confusion of identity due to the fact that they share ties between the Dominican Republic and the United States. After being forced to immigrate out of their country, the characters find themselves traumatized by the divergent culture and customs that they encounter in the United States and are therefore forced to adopt multiple personalities as a way of adapting and fitting in with this culture.
On the other hand, Oscar’s obsession with fantasy tales and books and role-playing could be him once again trying to assimilate and fit win with new American culture. It is uncommon to image a Dominican kid who is obsessed with comics and fantasy books because it is a trait that is normally associated with normal and mostly Caucasian kids. However, because he wants to fit once again in with this culture, this is perhaps why he becomes obsessed with these things so that he may considered as a full and true American. Yunior writes “Dude wore his nerdiness like a Jedi wore his light saber or a Lensman her lens. Couldn't have passed for normal if he'd wanted to” (Diaz, 21). This shows the extent to which Oscar had become influenced by the American culture that it was clear for everyone to see this personality.
Oscar’s sister also adopts multiple personalities or identities as she also attempts to become fully acclimatized to the American way of life. This is depicted by various experiences in her life. Lola is rebellious in nature, and this causes her to have a violent relationship with her mother. On one hand, Lola tries to stick to her Dominican roots but she also wants to experience the full American lifestyle and this partly contributes to her split personality. This also causes the huge conflicts between her and her mother. It gets so bad that she eventually runs away. Her mother is a stickler to the olden Dominican norms while Lola is second grade American. Her constant struggle between her Dominican influenced personality, and her new American personality causes a huge conflict not only within herself but also with her mother who she has constant and abusive fights with. For example, when she cuts her hair because she wants to be Goth, her mother is devastated and tries to make her wear a wig and screams at her "you're going to wear it every day. And if I see you without it on I'm going to kill you! (Diaz, 59). The ultimate result is Lola being sent back to the Dominican Republic to live with an aunt. This action is designed to allow her to reconnect with Dominican roots and therefore perhaps eliminate her split personality conflict.
The principal narrator of the novel Junior also exhibits a split personality also because of the clash between his Dominican roots and his American orientation. On one side, Yunior comes across as the perfect ladies’ man. As a Dominican, this is no surprise as people of this heritage were considered to be very appealing to the ladies. He presents himself as an almost perfect American lover and in fact; he tries to impose this identity on Oscar. He also goes to extreme levels to hide the fact that he is also a nerd. Yunior also has another deep secret personality. He is a habitual cheater and comes across as being incapable of appreciating even the most loving and beautiful women who come into his life. This perhaps reveals his orientation towards the Dominican definition of masculinity. The Dominican definition of masculinity is perhaps revealed through the actions of the dictator Trujillo, a notorious womanizer who sleeps with almost every beautiful girl in the land. Yunior in his narration writes that Trujillo was known for his desire and lust for sex even going as far as having “hundreds of spies whose entire job was to scour the provinces for his next piece of ass” (Diaz, 217) Yunior’s second identity can, therefore, be attributed to his Dominican background where men treat women as pure sexual objects to be used and then disposed.
The major characters in Junot Diaz’s ‘The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” all exhibit multiple identities. The need to create this façade emanates from the characters’ attempts to adapt and fit in with a divergent American culture that is significantly different from their own Dominican background. Oscar and his sister try to assimilate to the new American culture, but this does not ultimately end well. On the other hand, Yuniour appears to have assimilated to this culture but his true personality emerges when he is revealed to be a womanizer just like the dictator Trujillo is. In simple terms, all the split personalities in the characters lead to huge internal conflicts not only within themselves but also with those around them including friends and family members.
Díaz, Junot. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. New York: Riverhead Books, 2007. Print.