Isolation and Loneliness
In The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, isolation is a common theme that contributes to character development throughout the novel. Junot Diaz, in his narration of Oscar’s life through the eyes of Yunior, induces the idea that isolation is a self-imagined way for a character or person to justify his/her differences from society and the people around them.
While there are outside forces that contribute to the feeling of isolation, such as cultural differences, immigration, and gender stereotypes and expectations; in the end, Diaz firmly believes that a person’s feeling of isolation is a crutch to reason why he/she does not fit in. Diaz believes that the feeling of isolation is a self-imagined feeling that helps a person justify why he/she is an outcast in society. In the novel, the theme of isolation is common throughout all the main characters; Oscar, Lola, and Beli.
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To start with, Oscar begins as a typical Dominican male.
As a child, Oscar was considered “a Casanova” who was “a ‘normal’ Dominican boy raised in a ‘typical’ Dominican family” (11). Oscar eventually grows “fatter and fatter,” develops “zits,” and gets “self-conscious” because his “interest in “Genres… bec[o]me[s] synonymous with being a loser… ” (16, 17). Because Oscar suddenly turns into an outcast, he blames his dorkiness and homely appearance for his lack of acceptance by the outside world. What Diaz underlines, though, is that Oscar has control over his life, but isolates himself by letting everyone elses opinions and judgements affect his actions and opinions of himself.
Next, Lola believes she is isolated in that her mother has certain expectations of her to be the perfect Dominican daughter. Lola blames her mother for “mak[ing] [Lola] doubt [herself]” and believes that Beli is the reason Lola feels so isolated (56). However, Diaz claims that Lola’s feeling of isolation comes from within her. Lola claims that because of her mother’s actions and behavior, she feels the need for “change” and has a “wildness” within her (58). In fact, it is Lola’s need for change that drives her to be isolated, not Beli’s actions. Beli also self-imagines her isolation in society.
She uses the fact that she started as late bloomer but eventually turned into a beautiful women to isolate herself from the people around her. Also, like Lola, Beli has a burning desire to escape from the clutches of the Dominican Republic and from the stereotypes that come with being a woman living in the DR. Beli blames people around her, like the Gangster and Trujillo, for her feelings of isolation and loneliness, when in fact her feelings are strictly in her head. However, outside forces definitely do fuel characters’ feelings of isolation and loneliness, such as cultural differences, immigration, and gender stereotypes and expectations.
First, cultural differences contribute to Lola’s and Oscar’s feelings of isolation. Next, immigration contributes to Lola’s, Oscar’s, and Yunior’s feelings of isolation. Lastly, gender stereotypes and expectations contribute to Lola’s, Oscar’s, Yunior’s, and Beli’s feelings of isolation. While outside forces absolutely contribute to characters’ feelings of isolation and loneliness, Diaz, through Yunior’s narration, highlights that isolation is a self-imagined feeling as a way to reason why one does not fit into society and may be dubbed as an outsider or an outcast.