Oscar, a Dominican American man growing up in Paterson, New Jersey, is the main subject of the novel and the “Oscar Wao” of the title. He is the son of Beli, the brother of… (read full character analysis)
The novel’s narrator as well as a character in its plot, Yunior starts as Oscar’s college roommate and reluctantly becomes his best friend. Yunior initially tries to help Oscar as a way to impress… (read full character analysis)
A strong, extremely intelligent woman, Lola is Oscar’s sister and the “one who got away” who captures Yunior’s heart. Lola has big dreams of escaping her small hometown and seeing more of the… (read full character analysis)
Known as Beli for most of her story, she is the mother of Oscar and Lola and the first member of the Cabral family to leave Santo Domingo and make a new life in Paterson… (read full character analysis)
A real historical figure, the dictator of the Dominican Republic from 1930 until he was assassinated in 1961, Rafael Trujillo is also an important character in the novel. His actions cause much of the heartache… (read full character analysis)
Beli’s aunt and Oscar’s great-aunt, La Inca took care of Beli after the death and imprisonment of her parents. La Inca owns a chain of bakeries in the Dominican Republic, and believes that… (read full character analysis)
An older Dominican woman who has made her living as a prostitute escorting powerful men from the Dominican Republic and countries all over Europe, Ybón lives next door to La Inca in Santo Domingo. Oscar… (read full character analysis)
Beli’s second love and the husband of Trujillo’s sister. He is wealthy due to his services as a hit man for Trujillo, and offers Beli a world of luxury that he really cannot… (read full character analysis)
A Chinese immigrant in the DR who owns the Chinese restaurant where Beli works. He has a head for business, and allows the Trujillato to do whatever they wish as long as they leave him… (read full character analysis)
Ybón’s main client and “boyfriend”, the Capitán took advantage of the political instability after Trujillo’s death to rise to the top of the military. Capable of great acts of violence, the Capitán shoots Oscar for his relationship with Ybón.
Oscar’s crush in college. She dresses like a “goth-chick” and intimidates every other man on Rutgers campus. Oscar gains her friendship, but is deeply hurt when she continues to date other people.
Oscar’s crush in high school. She and Oscar bond over writing, but her abusive boyfriend Manny forces her to cut off all contact with Oscar.
Ana’s boyfriend. He is away in the military when Ana and Oscar first meet, but soon returns and demands that Oscar stop seeing Ana. His abusive behavior towards Ana leads Oscar to wait outside his house with a gun. Luckily, Oscar leaves before anyone is shot or arrested.
One of Oscar’s crushes in elementary school. She is pretty, and forces Oscar to choose her instead of Olga, but dumps him soon after.
One of Oscar’s crushes in elementary school. She is not as beautiful as Maritza, and is Puerto Rican, so Oscar leaves her. He later regrets this when he has no girlfriends through the rest of his adolescence.
Beli’s first love in their private high school. Jack Pujols is the golden child of an elite Dominican family, with blue eyes and blonde hair that show his European aristocratic blood. He seduces the young Beli, but blames her completely when they are caught.
Juan’s brother, José is the only reason that their Chinese restaurant stays open, as he protects it from Trujillato rioting. He helps save Beli after she is beaten.
Abelard’s wife and Beli’s mother. She commits suicide months after Beli is born due to the stress of Abelard’s imprisonment.
Abelard’s oldest daughter and Beli’s oldest sister. She is an intelligent woman ready to follow in her father’s footsteps as a doctor, but her beauty catches Trujillo’s eye. Abelard chooses to be thrown in jail rather than let Trujillo touch her. She dies tragically young after her mother’s death.
Abelard’s second daughter. She dies tragically young after her mother’s death.
Lola’s daughter. She is born as the novel comes to a close, so she never meets her uncle Oscar, but Yunior hopes that she will be able to break the family curse with the knowledge that Yunior has found in Oscar’s life.
Lola’s first boyfriend, a “blanquito” who lives in a trailer with his father on the Jersey Shore. Lola runs away with him at 15, but he treats her very poorly.
Lola’s friend in Paterson. She is white and dresses with a goth style that Lola admires and eventually copies.
A scholarship girl from Los Mina and Lola’s friend at the private school in the DR. She convinces Lola to join the track team and helps her fit in as Dominican.
Abelard’s mistress. She rejected his proposal of marriage when they were young, but sleeps with him now that she is a widow. She tries to convince Abelard to run to Cuba, then dies of cancer (or grief) after Abelard is imprisoned.
Abelard’s neighbor and best friend. Marco betrays Abelard to the secret police out of fear for himself.
One of Beli’s fellow waitresses at Juan Then’s restaurant. She is the perfect Dominican party girl that Beli might have become if she had not fallen in love with the Gangster.
A taxi driver in Santo Domingo who helps Oscar, first with getting Ybón home when she is drunk and more when the Capitán starts to target Oscar.
A mistreated servant girl in Bani, whom Beli befriends.
A young student who tries to date Beli.
Trujillo’s sister, nicknamed “La Fea” (the ugly woman), who is married to the Gangster.
Yunior’s girlfriend at Rutgers, who dumps him when she discovers his cheating.
One of Oscar's only friends in high school, who is initially as nerdy as Oscar. By senior year, Miggs becomes more socially comfortable and sometimes makes fun of Oscar. They eventually lose touch.
One of Oscar's only friends in high school, who is initially as nerdy as Oscar. They eventually lose touch.
Oscar's uncle, who is a heroin addict.
A Chinese girl who sits at the desk next to Beli's for a while during school.