The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Oscar de León (Oscar Wao) Character Analysis

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 Lola, and perhaps the most “cursed” of all of his family members. His kind heart and intelligent mind are hidden beneath an “ugly” exterior that others are quick to judge. He struggles with depression and attempts to find peace with his racial and cultural heritage, as well as prove himself as a writer in the science fiction and fantasy genres he loves. Yunior, his college roommate, tries to help him find more socially acceptable love in romantic relationships, but Oscar stays true to himself and eventually falls in love with Ybón, a Dominican prostitute. Oscar dies for that love, but leaves behind a legacy of writings for Yunior to compile.

Oscar de León (Oscar Wao) Quotes in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao quotes below are all either spoken by Oscar de León (Oscar Wao) or refer to Oscar de León (Oscar Wao). 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Riverhead Books edition of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao published in 2008.
Book 1, Chapter 1 Quotes

You really want to know what being an X-Man feels like? Just be a smart bookish boy of color in a contemporary U.S. ghetto. Mamma mia! Like having bat wings or a pair of tentacles growing out of your chest.

Related Characters: Yunior (The Narrator) (speaker), Oscar de León (Oscar Wao)
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:

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Jesus Christ, he whispered. I'm a Morlock. The next day at breakfast he asked his mother: Am I ugly? She sighed. Well, hijo, you certainly don’t take after me. Dominican parents! You got to love them!

Related Characters: Oscar de León (Oscar Wao) (speaker), Yunior (The Narrator) (speaker), Beli (Hypatia Belicia) Cabral (speaker)
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

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The trip turned out to be something of a turning point for him. Instead of discouraging his writing, chasing him out of the house like his mother used to, his abuela, Nena Inca, let him be. Allowed him to sit in the back of the house as long as he wanted, didn’t insist that he should be "out in the world."

Related Characters: Oscar de León (Oscar Wao) (speaker), La Inca (speaker)
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

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The white kids looked at his black skin and his afro and treated him with inhuman cheeriness. The kids of color, upon hearing him speak and seeing him move his body, shook their heads. You’re not Dominican. And he said, over and over again, But I am. Soy dominicano. Dominicano soy.

Related Characters: Yunior (The Narrator) (speaker), Oscar de León (Oscar Wao)
Related Symbols: Blackness
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 1, Chapter 4 Quotes

“Wondering aloud, If we were orcs, wouldn’t we, at a racial level, imagine ourselves to look like elves?”

Related Characters: Oscar de León (Oscar Wao) (speaker), Yunior (The Narrator)
Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:

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These days I have to ask myself; What made me angrier? That Oscar, the fat loser, quit, or that Oscar, the fat loser, defied me? And I wonder: What hurt him more? That I was never really his friend, or that I pretended to be?

Related Characters: Yunior (The Narrator) (speaker), Oscar de León (Oscar Wao)
Page Number: 181
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 2, Chapter 6 Quotes

Oscar remembers having a dream where a mongoose was chatting with him. Except the mongoose was the Mongoose. What will it be, muchacho? it demanded. More or less? And for a moment he almost said less. So tired, and so much pain – Less! Less! Less! – but then in the back of his head he remembered his family... More, he croaked. --- --- --- said the Mongoose, and then the wind swept him back into darkness.

Related Characters: Yunior (The Narrator) (speaker), Oscar de León (Oscar Wao)
Related Symbols: The Mongoose and the Man with No Face
Page Number: 301
Explanation and Analysis:

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He read The Lord of the Rings for what I'm estimating the millionth time, one of his greatest loves and greatest comforts since he'd first discovered it, back when he was nine and lost and lonely and his favorite librarian had said, Here, try this, and with one suggestion changed his life. Got through almost the whole trilogy, but then the line "and out of Far Harad black men like halftrolls" and he had to stop, his head and heart hurting too much.

Related Characters: Yunior (The Narrator) (speaker), Oscar de León (Oscar Wao)
Related Symbols: Blackness
Page Number: 307
Explanation and Analysis:

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Book 3: The Final Letter Quotes

So this is what everybody's always talking about! Diablo! If only I'd known. The beauty! The beauty!

Related Characters: Oscar de León (Oscar Wao) (speaker)
Page Number: 335
Explanation and Analysis:

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

The timeline below shows where the character Oscar de León (Oscar Wao) 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
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
...Santo Domingo. However, the fukú story that interests the narrator most is the story of Oscar de León. The narrator mentions that Oscar himself may not have seen his life as... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 1: Ghetto Nerd at the End of the World (1974-1987)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
The Golden Age. The narrator begins by describing Oscar de León. From Oscar’s childhood, it was clear that he would never live up to... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
This “Golden Age” (when Oscar was seven) culminates in Oscar having two girlfriends at once. Maritza, a gorgeous Peruvian girl,... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Oscar feels guilty for hurting Olga, but mostly heartbroken that Maritza left him. He pinpoints this... (full context)
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
...ruined the lives of Maritza and Olga. Olga becomes a school pariah, on par with Oscar’s unpopularity. Maritza, meanwhile, goes on to find abusive boyfriends. Oscar watches this all sadly. (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
The Moronic Inferno. Oscar starts high school at an all-boys Catholic school called Don Bosco Tech. Oscar becomes the... (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
Love and Loss Theme Icon
In high school, Oscar dives deeper into his love of genre. The narrator describes in great detail all the... (full context)
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... (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
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Oscar is Brave. When even Al and Miggs get girlfriends during their senior year, Oscar is... (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... (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
Oscar keeps up his writing once back in the states, but his mother and his friends... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Oscar Comes Close. Oscar’s focus on writing is disrupted when he meets Ana Obregon in an... (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... (full context)
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Amor de Pendejo (Stupid Love). Ana and Oscar begin to spend a lot of time together, talking on the phone and hanging out... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Oscar in Love. Oscar continues to learn more about Ana, especially the physical abuse she suffered... (full context)
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
With Manny back in Ana’s life, Ana starts to blow Oscar off. When they do hang out, Ana talks only of Manny, alternating between her desire... (full context)
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Oscar’s lovesickness takes over his life, as he drives aimlessly through Paterson and loses all interest... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Oscar meets Ana at the Japanese mall and compliments her figure, confusing Ana and putting her... (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
After graduation, Oscar heads to Rutgers ready for a new start. Once there, though, he finds that he... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 2: Wildwood (1982-1985)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
...also means that now Lola’s mother no longer has the energy to hit Lola and Oscar. When Lola is 14, she finally takes a stand and burns her mother’s wig. (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Though Lola feels guilty and ungrateful for everything her mother sacrificed to raise her and Oscar, she continues to assert her own personality, despite the fact that her mother hates these... (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
Love and Loss Theme Icon
...at the garage with his father, making him even crabbier than before. Lola worries that Oscar will be skinny now that he has no one to cook for him, and she... (full context)
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
...racist remarks, Lola stands up for herself. She rejects Aldo’s advances that night and calls Oscar the next morning. Oscar cries when he hears Lola’s voice, and Lola realizes how much... (full context)
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Lola walks in to the coffee shop to find that Oscar is fatter than ever, and that he told their mother about the meeting. Their mother... (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
...narrator returns 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... (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
Once Beli has decided to love the Gangster, she loves as hard as her son (Oscar) will decades later. The Gangster reciprocates and promises her a future far more beautiful than... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 4: Sentimental Education (1988-1992)
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 Lola will not sleep with him, he still “steps up” to take care of Oscar when Oscar nearly kills himself through alcohol poisoning with 151 rum. Lola wants to study... (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... (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
The first month that the two boys room together, Yunior has little to do with Oscar, agreeing that he is a better roommate than he has previously had, simply because Oscar... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
While Yunior and Oscar room together, Yunior tries to give Oscar some advice on how to get girls. He... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Other students at Rutgers heckle Oscar while he runs, because the physical activity is hard for him. Demoralized by these reactions... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Now that Yunior and Oscar are no longer even friendly, much less friends, Yunior’s “cool” friends start to tease Oscar... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Yunior says that his contact with Oscar should have ended that year, except that Oscar decided to fall in love. This time,... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Oscar’s spirits rise following his friendship with Jenni, and he even starts running again as he... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Two weeks later, Oscar walks into Jenni’s room while she and a new boy are hooking up. He freaks... (full context)
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
With Yunior gone for their last night at Rutgers, Oscar drinks more and then walks to the New Brunswick train station. He sneaks into the... (full context)
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Yunior hopes to make up with Lola at the hospital while they wait for Oscar to recover, but she remains cold and blames Yunior for not looking out for her... (full context)
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
Yunior visits Oscar just once that summer, really hoping to see Lola. She is supremely unhappy to be... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
...the end of his story, Yunior surprises everyone (including himself) and moves back in with Oscar. He says that, as Oscar remembers it, they made up when Yunior greeted Oscar with... (full context)
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Yunior goes back to reading Oscar’s journal, finding out that he has started driving around aimlessly at night. He pretends he... (full context)
Book 2, Preface
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
...into a whore, but she feels no shame for using this man. La Inca and Oscar try to keep Lola in good spirits, but Lola only dreams about using the money... (full context)
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
...but that her personality doesn’t allow her to show love for anyone but her son Oscar, whom she cries over relentlessly in the end. (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 5: Poor Abelard (1944-1946)
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
...takes over the narration again, offering yet another possible start to the sad tale of Oscar Wao with Oscar’s maternal grandfather Abelard Cabral. A footnote explains that this is the beginning... (full context)
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
...book he ever wrote or owned. Yunior explains that this version of Abelard’s fall was Oscar’s personal favorite, as it is closest to the fantasy books that Oscar loved. Yunior also... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 6: Land of the Lost (1992-1995)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Art, Life, and Latinos in America Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
The Dark Age. After graduation, Oscar moves back home with his mother and futilely looks for a job in a post-Reagan... (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
Oscar’s family isn’t doing very well either. Lola gave up on Japan to move to New... (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... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Oscar Takes a Vacation. After Oscar has been a teacher at Don Bosco for three years,... (full context)
Identity and the Dominican Experience in America Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
The Condensed Notebook of a Return to a Nativeland. Oscar’s mother gets dressed up for the plane ride back to the DR and acts like... (full context)
Evidence of a Brother’s Past. Lola takes picture after picture of Oscar, all over the island. He finally looks happy, if confused, and he doesn’t look fat. (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
Oscar Goes Native. The first week, Oscar has a lot of catching up to do –... (full context)
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
...houses over from La Inca, and has just returned from working in Europe. Ybón asks Oscar what he’s reading, and says she recognizes him from La Inca’s old pictures. Oscar finds... (full context)
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Oscar decides, for once in his life, not to overwhelm Ybón with the strength of his... (full context)
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
...Caribbean puta, but that choice would have destroyed the integrity of a “true” account of Oscar Wao’s life. He reminds us that it is our job to decide if any of... (full context)
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
...how hard she has to work for the body she had for free at 16. Oscar thinks she is just as beautiful now, and tells her so. Soon, Oscar stops writing... (full context)
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
Ybón tells Oscar everything that has happened to her in her life, and about some of her clients... (full context)
Story, History, and Writing Theme Icon
Dominican American Culture, Colonialism, and Racism Theme Icon
Love and Loss Theme Icon
La Inca Speaks. La Inca gets one small paragraph of narration, to say that Oscar did not meet Ybón outside her house. He met her in a cabaret. (full context)
Love and Loss Theme Icon
What Never Changes. Yunior breaks in to ask whether, in all the talking, Oscar ever had a chance to be physically intimate with Ybón. Yunior says that nothing sexual... (full context)
Free Will and Destiny Theme Icon
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Oscar at the Rubicon. As August begins, Ybón starts to talk about her boyfriend the Capitán.... (full context)
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Last Chance. Two days later, Oscar’s uncle shows Oscar bullet holes on the side of their house. La Inca and Beli... (full context)
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Oscar Gets Beat. In mid-August, Oscar meets the Capitán and gets his first kiss. Yunior then... (full context)
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...during the Balaguer years and soon rose to the top of the ranks. He regards Oscar coolly, and a terrified Oscar blurts out that he is an American citizen. The Capitán... (full context)
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The two police officers, whom Yunior calls Solomon Grundy and Gorilla Grod, start to drive Oscar to the cane fields. They chit chat while Oscar frantically tries to think of a... (full context)
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...taxi driver had the bravery and the kindness to follow the police officers and find Oscar after the police officers were done with him. A singing voice leads Clives to Oscar’s... (full context)
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Close Encounters of the Caribbean Kind. Oscar remembers dreaming about the Mongoose while he was unconscious. The Mongoose asks Oscar if he... (full context)
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Dead or Alive. The doctors catalogue Oscar’s injuries and La Inca and Beli begin to pray. Each refuses to acknowledge the similarity... (full context)
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Briefing for a Descent Into Hell. Oscar lays unconscious for three days, remembering nothing but an “Aslan-like figure with golden eyes” and... (full context)
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Alive. As soon as Oscar is able to travel, Beli arranges a plane flight home to Paterson. Oscar insists that... (full context)
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Oscar tries to get himself to Ybón’s house, but sees that her car isn’t there. Finally,... (full context)
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Lola meets Beli and Oscar at the airport, crying when she sees the damage all over Oscar’s face. She tells... (full context)
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Paterson, Again. Oscar returns home and heals, but can’t let go of his love for Ybón. He dreams... (full context)
Book 3, Preface
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Yunior brings us to January after Oscar returns from his beating in the Dominican Republic, as Yunior and Lola are living in... (full context)
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Oscar comes to see Yunior, still recovering but doing much better. Oscar tells Yunior that he... (full context)
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Oscar gets to the main reason for his visit: he needs to borrow money from Yunior.... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 7: The Final Voyage
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Oscar touches down in Santo Domingo once more, this time clapping along with the other passengers... (full context)
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Ybón calls Oscar mi amor (my love) and tells him to leave immediately, but Oscar professes his immense... (full context)
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Curse of the Caribbean. Oscar stays at La Inca’s house for 27 days, researching and writing a book about his... (full context)
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Nineteen days after Oscar arrives back in the DR, Ybón sneaks out on a date with him. The whole... (full context)
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The Last Days of Oscar Wao. Oscar writes almost 300 pages during the 27 days he waits for Ybón. He... (full context)
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Oscar begins sending telepathic goodbye messages to his mother, his uncle, Lola, and all the girls... (full context)
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Oscar begins to tell the officers in Spanish of his deep love for Ybón, and what... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 8: The End of the Story
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...Beli and Lola fly down to claim the body, and are the only ones at Oscar’s funeral. Beli’s cancer returns the next year and she lives another ten months before giving... (full context)
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The family tries to hire lawyers to get justice for Oscar’s murder, but nothing happens. The American embassy and Dominican government refuse to help as well.... (full context)
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As For Us. Yunior wishes that Oscar’s death had brought him and Lola closer together, but he is too much of a... (full context)
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On a Super Final Note. Even years later, Yunior still dreams about Oscar. At first, the dreams place him and Oscar back at Rutgers, desperately wanting to talk,... (full context)
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The Dreams. Ten years after Oscar’s death, Yunior finally decides to get his act together and find himself again. He tells... (full context)
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...when he’s not with his wife. He also writes as much as possible, just like Oscar did. Yunior is finally a new man. (full context)
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...in the real world, they never talk about their past together; they only talk about Oscar. (full context)
Book 3, Epilogue
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...León, and Yunior will tell Isis everything about her family. Yunior has preserved all of Oscar’s manuscripts, papers, books, games, and photos in four refrigerators in his basement so that Isis... (full context)
Book 3: The Final Letter
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Oscar managed to send a few posted letters and a few breezy postcards home before he... (full context)
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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... (full context)