Páginas en blanco: transmissions of trauma in Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Public Deposited

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  • November 23, 2021
  • Rivera, Catalina
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • While the titular character of Oscar appears to be unequivocal hero of Junot Díaz's novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, the narrating figure of Yunior drives the text with his plural role as Watcher, teller, and participant in the drama of Oscar's tragedy. His footnotes, which often perplex readers by their very presence in a work of fiction, allow Yunior an intimate space in which he may bring language to the enigmatic truths of his trauma as a subject who subconsciously carries the burden of Dominican history; an impossible past wrought by Spanish conquest, the slave trade and the consequent economy of breeding people, the U.S. backed dictatorship of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina in the Dominican Republic for most of the presumably enlightened twentieth century, and the alienation of Dominican diaspora seeking liberty and opportunity within the contemporary United States. This paper seeks to uncover Yunior's surfacing trauma, and explores the possibility of his bearing witness to the violence of his origins. Yunior names a story about an other in order to bring his experience to language before he has fully claimed it as his own. By playing with the medium and genre of his narrative, Yunior hails an unknown witness to hear his testimony. This interaction between narrator and reader potentially changes the tone of intercultural dialogue, where reader expectations are deliberately upset in order to defamiliarize difficult truths and for saying that which cannot be said without fear of antagonistic divisions.
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  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in the Department of English and Comparative Literature."
  • DeGuzmán, María
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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