The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

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Trujillo 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 throughout the book, either directly, as when his thugs beat Beli and Oscar, or indirectly, as his censorship prevents the other characters from being honest about their pasts or their heritage. Yunior, who calls him “The Failed Cattle Thief,” depicts Trujillo as the worst villain of every fantasy novel, complete with a narcissistic complex and a preoccupation with sexy women. The novel points out the many flaws in the Trujillo regime, and each character works in his or her own way to overcome the damages that his administration did to the Dominican people.

Trujillo Quotes in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao quotes below are all either spoken by Trujillo or refer to Trujillo . 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, Preface Quotes

For those of you who missed your mandatory two seconds of Dominican history: Trujillo, one of the twentieth century’s most infamous dictators, ruled the Dominican Republic between 1930 and 1961 with an implacable ruthless brutality… At first glance, he was just your prototypical Latin American caudillo, but his power was terminal in ways that few historians or writers have ever truly captured or, I would argue, imagined. He was our Sauron, our Arawn, our Darkseid, our Once and Future Dictator, a personaje so outlandish, so perverse, so dreadful that not even a sci-fi writer could have made his ass up.

Related Characters: Yunior (The Narrator) (speaker), Trujillo
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

Yunior (the narrator) is intimately familiar with Dominican history because of his Dominican heritage, but he understands that the Dominican Republic is not a priority in most American classrooms. In the very beginning of the novel, Yunior introduces the President Trujillo with a mixture of fear and disrespect. He brings in the science fiction and fantasy genres that he loves in order to laugh at Trujillo even as he also finds him terrifying. Trujillo is worse than any science fiction dictator, as Yunior tries to assert that he is not making up any of these atrocious events. With the comment about “mandatory two seconds of Dominican history,” Díaz also mocks the Eurocentric, colonialist nature of history in America even as it continues to perpetuate itself.

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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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Trujillo Character Timeline in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The timeline below shows where the character Trujillo appears in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1, Preface
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
In the 1950s, the first generation of the novel, the curse was controlled by Trujillo, the dictator of the Dominican Republic. This explains why all those opposed to the dictator... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 3: The Three Heartbreaks of Belicia Cabral (1955-1962)
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
...(Number One). Jack Pujols is the son of an elite Dominican family that is in Trujillo’s inner circle. Jack is nearly white skinned, and the narrator explains that he is an... (full context)
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
...teacher asks them to write an essay about their predictions for the future, for themselves, Trujillo, and the DR. A classmate, Mauricio Ledesme, disappears because he writes about his hopes that... (full context)
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
...is allowed to get away with anything because his father is the best friend of Trujillo’s son. A footnote fills in the Trujillo family tree, explaining that Trujillo’s son was just... (full context)
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
...improve the DR. A footnote explains how dangerous it was to be a student during Trujillo’s regime, with men like Johnny Abbes García sent to murder anyone caught plotting against the... (full context)
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
In 1959, the Trujillo regime begins to crumble, worrying the Then brothers and Arquimedes that the fallout will be... (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
...knew of the Gangster’s work, but the narrator tells us that he was one of Trujillo’s best spies and hit men. Born into poverty, he soon proved his usefulness to the... (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
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
...her to a beautiful house in Miami, not knowing that he is currently out of Trujillo’s favor due to the mistake in Cuba. Beli focuses all her energy on the Gangster,... (full context)
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Truth and Consequences 1. Beli’s pregnancy and the impending fall of the Trujillo regime coincide to destroy the Gangster’s world. He reveals to Beli that not only is... (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
Truth and Consequences 2. Trujillo’s sister, known as La Fea (the Ugly Woman) was embroiled in as many dubious pursuits... (full context)
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
...child and the new circumstances of her life. As Beli recovers, the news spreads that Trujillo has been assassinated. A footnote gives the full story, or what is known of it,... (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
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
...she spent nursing Beli back to life. The DR is reeling from the upheaval of Trujillo’s death, a situation that the narrator compares to the defeat of Sauron in The Lord... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 5: Poor Abelard (1944-1946)
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
...and debate in his parlor, despite the danger in appearing revolutionary during the reign of Trujillo. A footnote explains that Abelard was skilled at keeping his head down to stay out... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Unfortunately for Abelard, his oldest daughter Jacquelyn blossoms into a beauty who might dangerously capture Trujillo’s attention. According to Yunior, one of Trujillo’s most “Dominican” qualities was that he believed all... (full context)
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
...and an intelligent nurse capable of helping Abelard with surgery. Socorro ignores the fact that Trujillo may be a problem, but keeps Jacquelyn out of sight anyway. Abelard also tells his... (full context)
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
A year passes, and Abelard attends another event in honor of the president. Trujillo stops him, joking that he might become a maricón (gay man) if he doesn’t bring... (full context)
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
And So? For three months, Abelard waits for Trujillo to ask about his family again. The worry affects his health, his job, his family... (full context)
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Santo Domingo Confidential. Yunior compares living in Santo Domingo during Trujillo’s regime to a “Twilight Zone” episode. Each citizen must pretend that every action the president... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Despite the intense fear that Trujillo inspired, Yunior reminds us that there were people who resisted. Abelard, however, has no designs... (full context)
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
...boarding school in Le Havre, France, the next year and will soon be safe from Trujillo’s attention. Yet that February, Abelard receives an invitation to a Presidential Event that specifically calls... (full context)
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Abelard starts drinking to cope with the stress of Trujillo’s invitation. Yunior speculates that other Latin American revolutionaries might have overthrown Trujillo then and there,... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Two days before Trujillo’s party, Lydia tries to convince Abelard to leave with her for Cuba, but he refuses... (full context)
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
...trunk. When they opened the trunk, Abelard allegedly made a joke saying, “No bodies here, Trujillo must have cleaned them out for me.” (full context)
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
The Secret Police take Abelard to the Forteleza San Luis, a notorious prison in Trujillo’s regime. The officers take all of Abelard’s possessions and force him to fill out forms... (full context)
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Many people speculate whether Abelard actually said anything treasonous about Trujillo. La Inca insists that Abelard did nothing wrong, and was simply framed by enemies of... (full context)
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
...reason for Abelard’s curse alleges that he wrote a book exposing the supernatural roots of Trujillo’s rise to power. This angered Trujillo enough to arrest Abelard and destroy every book he... (full context)
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
...was sentenced to 18 years in February 1946. All of Abelard’s possession are distributed to Trujillo’s minions, including to Marcus – as Yunior reveals that Marcus was one of the men... (full context)
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
...by a torture called “La Corona,” (the crown) and he died a few days before Trujillo was assassinated. (full context)
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
...in this sanctuary, even relishing the small rural school she attends. Beli never knows what Trujillo did to her family and, at this point, she has no idea what is in... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 6: Land of the Lost (1992-1995)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
...as the airplane touches ground. Santo Domingo has been arising anew from the ashes of Trujillo’s Era, and La Inca has done very well with her bakeries, and has decided to... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
The Capitán, a career military man in his 40s, was too young to help during Trujillo’s regime, but found plenty of work during the Balaguer years and soon rose to the... (full context)