The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

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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 world, but her love for her family and her sense of duty, despite her strained relationship with her mother Beli, pull her back to Paterson and Santo Domingo each time family tragedy strikes. However, she knows enough about herself and the harsh realities of the world not to fall for a player like Yunior. Lola ultimately makes a new life for herself in Miami, where she marries a Cuban man and has a daughter, Isis.

Lola de León Quotes in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao quotes below are all either spoken by Lola de León or refer to Lola de León. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Riverhead Books edition of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao published in 2008.
Book 1, Chapter 2 Quotes

You don’t know the hold our mothers have on us, even the ones that are never around—especially the ones that are never around. What it's like to be the perfect Dominican daughter, which is just a nice way of saying a perfect Dominican slave.

Related Characters: Lola de León (speaker), Beli (Hypatia Belicia) Cabral
Page Number: 55-56
Explanation and Analysis:

Lola tries to explain the experience of growing up as a second-generation Dominican-American girl. It is not clear who Lola is addressing when she says “You”—it might be Yunior, the narrator of the rest of the novel and Lola’s boyfriend later in life. Traditional Dominican family structure as Lola and Yunior experience it means that Yunior would have no idea the amount of work that a Dominican woman is expected to do. Lola also might be addressing any white American reader, who might have no idea of the struggles that Dominican families face trying to find economic success in America. Her mother (Beli) works two jobs in order to keep the family afloat in New Jersey. This means that much of the work keeping house, putting meals on the table, and raising Oscar falls to Lola. Lola loves her mother, but can’t help but feel underappreciated and overworked. Lola and her mother butt heads because Lola cannot erase her own personality to be nothing more than the obedient daughter that her mother wants.

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And that's when it hit with the force of a hurricane. The feeling. I stood straight up, the way my mother always wanted me to stand up. My abuela was sitting there, forlorn, trying to cobble together the right words and I could not move or breathe. I felt like I always did at the last seconds of a race, when I was sure that I was going to explode. She was about to say something and I was waiting for whatever she was going to tell me. I was waiting to begin.

Related Characters: Lola de León (speaker), La Inca
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

Lola has always had a “witchy” feeling of premonition that warns her when bad things are about to happen to her family. Here, Lola’s family heritage is particularly present, as La Inca starts to tell her about her mother’s childhood and the past that her mother never mentions. The de León and Cabral families have a difficult family history, especially as Lola’s mother never knew her real parents. Lola previously tried to run away from her family in New Jersey, a skill that she later puts into her school’s track team once she is sent to live in the Dominican Republic. Now that she is finally finding out some of the secrets of her family’s past, however, that desire to run has seemingly reached the end of the race. Lola can stop running and start building her identity on the foundations of her family. Her witchy feeling does continue to warn that not everything Lola will find out about her family is good, but knowing her history is better than not knowing.

Book 3, Chapter 8 Quotes

On one of our last nights as novios (boyfriend and girlfriend) she said, Ten million Trujillos is all we are.

Related Characters: Yunior (The Narrator) (speaker), Lola de León (speaker), Trujillo (speaker)
Page Number: 324
Explanation and Analysis:

After Oscar’s death, Lola and Yunior’s relationship quickly sours. Yunior, like Trujillo, is completely unable to stay faithful to one woman, instead sleeping with as many beautiful women as he can possibly manage. However, Lola is so focused on tending to her mother’s health when the cancer returns, that Lola doesn’t break up with Yunior until a year later when her mother has also died. Most people blame the Dominican fukú curse for these tragedies, but Lola does not believe in those superstitions. She chooses to see the pain and hardship prevalent in Dominican and Dominican American lives as the outcome of an entire generation of Dominican people shaped by years of a horrible dictatorship. After living through the Trujillo years, Dominican people now recreate his actions to sabotage themselves and the people around them. To be Trujillo, in Lola’s eyes, is to act with selfish disregard for others, even actively harming them if it suits your purposes – something that Yunior is very guilty of, but that Lola sees in herself, her family, and her Dominican friends as well.

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Lola de León Character Timeline in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The timeline below shows where the character Lola de León appears in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1, Chapter 1: Ghetto Nerd at the End of the World (1974-1987)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
The narrator now introduces Oscar’s sister, Lola, as a fiercely independent and wickedly smart “dominicana.” She refuses to let anyone take advantage... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
That summer, Oscar and Lola go to Santo Domingo, the capital of the DR. La Inca, their great aunt, lets... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
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Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
...alone, refusing to let their teasing keep him from his dreams. He tells his sister Lola that this is the one moment in his high school career where he was proud... (full context)
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
When Oscar tells Lola about Ana’s ex-boyfriend Manny, Lola tells him that this is evidence that Dominicans really do... (full context)
Love and Loss Theme Icon
...from his earlier infatuations based on looks alone. Ana appears at Oscar’s house, much to Lola and Oscar’s surprise, and asks Oscar to a movie. Oscar believes this is his first... (full context)
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
...Oscar waits outside Manny’s apartment, but luckily Manny does not come home. When Oscar tells Lola what lovesickness had forced him to do, Lola forces Oscar to swear on their ancestors... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
...exhausted from her battle against cancer, his uncle Rodolfo is high on heroin, and only Lola really celebrates. He finds out at graduation that only he and Olga, the third grade... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 2: Wildwood (1982-1985)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
The chapter starts the de León story over again from Lola’s perspective, as she describes a defining moment of change in her life. Lola remembers the... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
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Lola moves further back in time to describe the events that led her to burn her... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
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Though Lola feels guilty and ungrateful for everything her mother sacrificed to raise her and Oscar, she... (full context)
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
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...father in a trailer on a part of the Jersey Shore called Wildwood. He asks Lola to move in with him three times, but she does not agree until she and... (full context)
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Life with Aldo is not the escape Lola dreamed of, as she is miserable and bored. Aldo’s father selfishly ensures that Lola does... (full context)
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
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However, once Aldo begins making racist remarks, Lola stands up for herself. She rejects Aldo’s advances that night and calls Oscar the next... (full context)
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Love and Loss Theme Icon
Lola walks in to the coffee shop to find that Oscar is fatter than ever, and... (full context)
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Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
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Lola is sent to Santo Domingo with La Inca for the next year, so that she... (full context)
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
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Lola’s peace in the DR is disturbed when the odd feeling of premonition returns. She wonders... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
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The strange feeling of change continues to bother Lola, until she can’t sleep and her performance on the track team suffers. One night, she... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 3: The Three Heartbreaks of Belicia Cabral (1955-1962)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
...again, going further back in the family timeline to tell the story of Oscar and Lola’s mother, Hypatia Belicia Cabral. He describes her as a Dominican princess, with a beautiful body,... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 4: Sentimental Education (1988-1992)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
...he doesn’t trust doctors. He goes back to his dorm room to recover, and only Lola, out of all his friends, comes to take care of him. Even though he has... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
The narrator confesses that he truly cares for Lola, even though college students aren’t supposed to care about anything. Though the narrator admits that... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Despite Yunior’s disappointment that Lola will not sleep with him, he still “steps up” to take care of Oscar when... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
As Yunior gets to know Oscar, he finds it hard to believe that he and Lola are related, even though Lola hags out with her brother all the time. Yunior says... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
...and Yunior and Oscar get into a small fight that ends with Oscar shoving Yunior. Lola hears about this and calls from Spain to chew Yunior out. Though Oscar apologizes, Yunior... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
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...Oscar actually starts to answer to it. Oscar never gets angry about the teasing, but Lola stays furious at Yunior. Looking back, Yunior himself can’t decide whether he was still mad... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
...boy and Oscar spins into a deep depression. Yunior becomes worried enough that he calls Lola in Spain, and he promises to keep a close watch on Oscar. (full context)
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
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...divider of the highway instead of in traffic. Oscar is, of course, badly injured, and Lola returns from Spain early in order to take care of him. (full context)
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Yunior hopes to make up with Lola at the hospital while they wait for Oscar to recover, but she remains cold and... (full context)
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Yunior visits Oscar just once that summer, really hoping to see Lola. She is supremely unhappy to be stuck in Paterson once more. Right before Yunior leaves,... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
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After the summer, Yunior returns to Rutgers expecting to never see Oscar or Lola again. However, Oscar shows up at Yunior’s door to talk about writing. Oscar is thinner... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
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Near Christmas, Yunior runs into Lola while riding the bus, and she tells him that she will be teaching English in... (full context)
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Yunior indulges himself with a memory of Lola, wondering why her face sticks with him after all these years. He says that his... (full context)
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
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...helps a young pregnant woman get back to her house. He drives to Wildwood, where Lola had run away with her high school boyfriend, and to the neighborhood where Yunior grew... (full context)
Book 2, Preface
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
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Book 2 of the novel begins with another preface, returning to Lola’s point of view. At the end of Lola’s year living with La Inca in Santo... (full context)
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Lola’s depression over going back to the States gets bad enough that she even decides to... (full context)
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
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Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Lola’s mother comes to pick her up, and Lola is surprised by how thin and tired... (full context)
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Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
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Lola explains that she would have run away again, except that she has learned that running... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Lola cries for Max as she and her mother get on the plane to New York,... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 6: Land of the Lost (1992-1995)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
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Oscar’s family isn’t doing very well either. Lola gave up on Japan to move to New York with Yunior, Oscar’s mother is still... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
On Oscar’s good days he apologizes, and visits Lola in Washington Heights. Lola had gotten pregnant, but had an abortion when she found out... (full context)
Evidence of a Brother’s Past. Lola takes picture after picture of Oscar, all over the island. He finally looks happy, if... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
...decides to extend his stay on the island rather than go back to Paterson when Lola leaves. He soon has second thoughts about this because he feels so un-Dominican, but he... (full context)
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
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Love and Loss Theme Icon
Lola meets Beli and Oscar at the airport, crying when she sees the damage all over... (full context)
Book 3, Preface
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
...to January after Oscar returns from his beating in the Dominican Republic, as Yunior and Lola are living in separate apartments in Washington Heights. Though they are technically still boyfriend and... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
...he wants. Oscar and Yunior smoke and talk about why Yunior cannot stop cheating on Lola. Yunior insists that he doesn’t know. Oscar advises Yunior to try to find out why... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 7: The Final Voyage
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
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...surprised to find Oscar at her house, looking through her old photographs. Oscar writes to Lola, saying that the whole situation is hard to explain. (full context)
Love and Loss Theme Icon
...sneaks out on a date with him. The whole family is aghast at this development. Lola flies to the island to make Oscar come home, but Oscar tells her that she... (full context)
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Oscar begins sending telepathic goodbye messages to his mother, his uncle, Lola, and all the girls he had ever loved, as well as Ybón. The officers walk... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 8: The End of the Story
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
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Yunior tells us that this is pretty much it for his story. He, Beli and Lola fly down to claim the body, and are the only ones at Oscar’s funeral. Beli’s... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
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Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
...Ybón stays in her house at Mirador Norte, but La Inca moves back to Baní. Lola swears that she will never go back to the Dominican Republic, telling Yunior shortly before... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
As For Us. Yunior wishes that Oscar’s death had brought him and Lola closer together, but he is too much of a mess and Lola is too busy... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
As For Us. Yunior stays in touch with Lola, as Lola moved back to Paterson with her husband and young daughter. Whenever Yunior sees... (full context)
Book 3, Epilogue
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...before his “cosmic duty” as a Watcher is fulfilled. The first thing is to introduce Lola’s daughter. Yunior describes Isis as the daughter he could have had: dark-skinned, quick-witted, and mischievous,... (full context)
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Despite all the precautions that Lola has taken, Yunior knows that Isis will eventually encounter fukú in the world and dream... (full context)
Book 3: The Final Letter
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...before he died. In one to Yunior, Oscar calls Yunior “Count Fenris.” In one to Lola, he calls her “My Dear Bene Gesserit Witch.” Eight months after Oscar died, a package... (full context)