The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Discussion Questions

What are the cultural expectations put on boys? What affect do these expectations have on both the narrator and Oscar? Was Oscar’s love of women born out of his culture or was it some innate part of his personality? Why does Oscar fall for girls who are way out of his league? Why not fall for the Olga’s of the world?

Why does the narrator switch up with Lola telling the story in Chapter II, “Wildwood”? Why not stay with the original narrator? What about this chapter needed to be told by her?

The end of Chapter 2, Wildwood, Lola is looking at photos with La Inca when something happens. Lola ends the chapter with “I was waiting to begin.” (pg. 75) What is happening here? What is she about to find out?

Why does Beli fall in love with the Gangster? When she says she wants to “be free” just like the Gangster (pg. 133), what do they mean by that phrase? Does Beli means something different than the Gangster in that scene? Is anyone ever “free” in the land of Trujillo? What is Belicia trying so hard to escape? Does she show any signs of contentment as an adult in America, or are there signs that she’s still restless?

How does Belicia show her love for her children? Why would she belittle her children? Looking at the family from the outside, would you say that she loved them? Why does she treat Lola different from Oscar? How does this lack of visible love influence the children?

In what ways is Lola different than her mom? In what ways are they exactly alike? What about Beli do you see in Oscar? How do the mistakes of the mother get repeated in the children?

It takes a while to figure out who the narrator is. What affect does that mystery have on the novel? How was this used as a plot device? How soon did you figure it out?

How is the Dominican Republic a place of healing? How is it a place of hurt? How can it be both?

Friendships seem to be rare in this book, and the connection of family is destructive but strong. What causes the characters to find friendship so hard? Neither Beli nor Oscar have any friends. Would a strong friendship have changed their choices? At some point in the book, even the narrator, beaten up and in bed, has only Lola to come help him. Does Yunior also have these same problems as Lola and Oscar? He claimed to only “pretend” to be Oscar’s friend (pg. 181), but in this book, is there a difference?

Why is Lola and Oscar’s father given so little detail in the book? Why isn’t he a major character? Why dismiss him so?

In a footnote, he compares dictators and writers (pg. 340). Why does he compare them? What’s the conclusion from the comparison?

Read the part of the book where Oscar dies. What the meaning of the mongoose, the faceless man, and his family getting on a bus? What is the curse the family suffers from? Who put the curse on them? What is zafa and fuku? What does the book with the blank pages represent? He tells his killers that, “it was only because of her love that he’d been able to do the thing that he had done, the thing they could no longer stop” (pg. 321). What does Oscar mean? Yunior thinks Lola’s daughter will show up one day seeking out information on the curse. What might Yunior think that Lola’s daughter will do with that knowledge?

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One thought on “The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

  1. Pingback: A luscious book to savor: Review of The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz | wendy reads books

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