The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao


Junot Díaz

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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao: Book 3: The Final Letter Summary & Analysis

Oscar managed to send a few posted letters and a few breezy postcards home 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 comes to his old house in Paterson. It contains more chapters of the quartet of science-fiction fantasy novels he was writing, and a long letter to Lola. The letter to Lola talks about a new book he has written based on all of his research in the Dominican Republic in his last month, saying it is “the cure to what ails us.”
Oscar’s letter calls Yunior Count Fenris, an obscure yet powerful character from the science fiction book Dune that Yunior has quoted at other times in the novel. Bene Gesserit Witch also comes from Dune, referring to a female cult that has the power to control the whole world but uses that power for good. Oscar’s idea of a cure is ambiguous, possibly meaning a cure for the de León fukú, a cure for all Dominican people after Trujillo, or a cure for the unique problems of the children of immigrants.
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The magical second package with Oscar’s last book never arrives, either because Oscar was killed before he could send it, or someone forgot to get it to the post office. However, the first package does contain the huge news that Oscar and Ybón actually did get a week of bliss together before Oscar was shot. In it, Oscar divulges that he and Ybón had sex, and while that was wonderful, it was the other signs of intimacy that meant more to him. He describes Ybón’s beauty as she undresses, the way she sits in his lap or kisses his neck, and the secrets that they share – the small moments that he had always desired. When he laments that he had to wait so long, Ybón tells him to call the wait “life.” Oscar, finally experiencing his greatest dream, ends the letter: “The beauty! The beauty!”
At the very end of the novel, Oscar finally becomes a “true” Dominican man by having sex with Ybón. Though most of the novel tries to break stereotypes, this actually supports Yunior’s earlier claim that no Dominican ever dies a virgin. Yet Oscar prefers to focus on the non-sexual aspects of his relationship with Ybón, as he understands that the physical attraction is not what makes love so beautiful. His last words echo Colonel Kurz’s last words “The Horror! The Horror!” from Heart of Darkness, but accepts all the messiness of Dominican life rather than only seeing the tragic or harmful aspects. Oscar judges life, love, and humankind to be beautiful despite all the pain he has faced to get here. It seems that Yunior must learn to do the same.
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