In the same way that the concept of outsider/immigrant, individual and the nations, and love and violence appear to all cross, in comparison between “ The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz, and “The Cather in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger. On a closer analysis, both of these two works can be shown to have demonstrated these concepts with the characters. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger’s novel set in the 1950s, told the story of sixteen-year-old Holden Caulfield. Holden seems to be a drop-out student, but really a troublesome kid who seems to be struggling to adapt to reality of adulthood.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, is novel with a plethora of characters that all seem relate have a personal experience of the dictator Trujillo’s regime, and explores the violence all characters experienced as a result. The concept of trying to assimilate yourself into society are apparent with both Holden and Oscar. Both characters both shared the theme of being an outsider/immigrant and individual and the nation are relevant with the other characters in The Brief Life of Oscar Wao.
For Holden’s case I felt as if the of outsider and individual and the nation were very parallel. Holden felt like he never belong at Pencey Prep , and he feels as if he’s an outsider. He keeps to himself, this shown when he skips the football game instead of watching it with the other Pencey students. Even throughout the book this is apparent through many ways including, his lack of friends, his longing for his dead brother, and the way he attempts to gain acceptance from others. The fact that felt like he didn’t belong just wanted to make him escape from Pencey.
He gets into a confrontation with his roommate Stradlater and ends up packing his bag the same very night and ends up leaving to New York City. Oscar into comparison is very much like Holden. The fact that Oscar doesn’t look to alpha male Dominican stereotype he is viewed as an outsider.Oscar on the other hand wasn’t like those “normal” Dominicans. He wasn’t the most charming, or good looking in fact he was the total opposite of that. Oscar was a fat, science fiction loving nerd that had really bad luck with women. He felt as if he didn’t fit in anywhere.
Throughout his life he was always told that he was not Dominican. Therefore, Oscar felt as an outsider throughout most of the novel. He used genres like fantasy, science fiction and comic books to help him escape into a completely different world. For example, “ Dude had been waiting his whole life for something just like this to happen to him, had always wanted to live in a world of magic and mystery, but instead of taking note of the vision and changing his ways, the fuck just shook his swollen head” (Diaz, 190) This was a just before Oscar’s suicide attempt.
Oscar believes that he stuck with his families curse (fuku) and loses all hopes and desire of love. Holden’s loneliness is a driving force to the theme of individual and the nation. Throughout the book Holden used alienation as a form of self protection. Just like how he uses the red hunting hat as way of portraying himself as unique. The hat was more of a symbol of his own uniqueness and individuality. I think he wore the hat so he can isolate himself so he can feel as that he was better than everyone else and therefore too above to interact with.
The way how I perceived how individual and the nation can be used, is the fact that it always felt like it was Holden v.s. The World. Whenever he met someone he was often highly judgmental and critical of them. It was easy for him to formulate negative opinions of them. For example, “I never once saw him brush his teeth. They always looked mossy and awful, and he damn near made you sick if you saw in the dining room with his mouth full of potatoes. Besides that, he had a lot of pimples. Not just on his forehead or chin, but all over his whole face”( Salinger p.g 23).
This shows how Holden feels that he’s superior and above everyone else with the judgmental attitude he has toward everyone. In The Brief Life Of Oscar Wao, it follows the characters of Belicia, Abelard, Lola, and Oscar. Oscar’s mother, Belicia and her Oscar grandfather, Abelard were both living under the rule of the Trujillo’s regime. “Men are not indispensable. But Trujillo is irreplaceable. For Trujillo is not man. He is… a comic force…. Those who try to compare him to his ordinary contemporaries are mistaken. He belongs to…the category of those born to be destined” (Diaz, p.g 204).
This shows how much power one man has on a nation. Trujillo was a cosmic force, galactus, the eye of Sauron from Mordor. He was the nation, and everyone affected by his regime were the the individuals. The theme of individual and the nation is shown with Belicia. Belicia life parallels with Trujillo when she ends up falling in love with the Gangster. The Gangster and Beli both decide to go on a vacation together, where Beli become pregnant. The Gangster is married to Trujillo’s sister. Because of this he doesn’t want to a child with Beli, so he decides to call two men, the Elvises and they grab her and take down to the cane field.
This is where Beli is beaten up to the point of her death, and the baby dies in the act. This scene is important because it shows how the individual, which is Belicia is up against Trujillo’s men, which are the nation. Abelard is a surgeon, and was respected upper class man that lived in Santo Domingo under the dictatorship of Trujillo. He always made sure that he is remains on good terms with Trujillo, so he pays his respects by going to his parties, but still keeps his distance. At Trujillo’s event, Abelard was to bring along his wife and daughter. Knowing the scumbag that Trujillo is, he doesn’t bring his attractive daughter, because he want to protect her from him.
Trujillo continues to invite him and is daughter, but Abelard still decides not to bring them, and Trujillo isn’t happy. Couple of months later he is then arrested, and spends his whole entire life in jail. The individual and the nation is apparent here because his love for his daughter Jacquelyn ultimately leads his own demise. He didn’t want give al the his nation which was Trujillo, so the nation takes everything from him. This is the lead into a fuku so strong that it passed on to two more generations.
Oscar only ambition in this story was to break the family curse. He didn’t want to die a virgin. In the chapter Land of the Lost, he finds himself lost, in world where he will always be fat, sad, and a virgin. He ends up going on a vacation to Santo Domingo where he meets Ybon. Ybon was thirty-six year old, that used to be a prostitute in her younger days. Just like every girl Oscar meets, he ends up falling in love with her. The only issue is that Ybon boyfriend is the captain of the police. The captain boyfriends finds out about Oscar and two men, Solomon Grundy and Gorilla Grow out to get him. He his taken to cane field, which mirrors what happens with his mother Belicia.
And follows the theme of individual and the nation. When the two men take him to the cane field and before they kill him, Oscar says ,“ It was only because of love for her that he’d been able to do the things that he’s done, the things they could no longer stop, told them if they killed him they would probably feel nothing and their children would probably feel nothing either, not until they were old and weak or about to be struck by car and then they would sense him waiting on the other side and over there he wouldn’t be no fatboy or dork or kid no girl ever loved: over there he’d be a hero” (Diaz, p.g 321). This is an important scene because it shows that Oscar had always felt that he was alone in his life. It was almost like came to peace, and he knew there was nothing here left for him.
The themes of individual and the nation, and immigrant/outsiders are both present affecting a wide array of characters. For Oscar he always felt like he never belonged in this world. Holden always felt as if he was above everyone else and always looked at things as if it was him v.s the world. Abelard and Belicia are both affected by Trujillo’s regime.