Contemporary Literature discussion prompt: Robert Eaglestone points out that an old idea about the novel was that it was “seen as a place where a national tradition revealed and reinforced a community, a ‘we'” (4). He continues to suggest that contemporary fiction tends towards the more global. Thinking in terms of The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, what “place[s]” or “national tradition[s]” are explored in the novel. Specifically, track the traditions that are blended in this novel (is it an “American” novel–in the sense of the United States of America? A Caribbean? A British?). Look, too, at the shift in register throughout the novel. (Visit here for a brief overview of register:  http://grammar.about.com/od/rs/g/registerterm.htm). What does this shift do for defining who the “we” are that read/understand/know this novel? As always, use examples from the text blended with our secondary sources and critical approaches to make your argument. Also, as always, you may either post your own original thought or respond to another student’s response with constructive dialogue. Remember, each response/post should be approximately one double-spaced page or longer.      

My response: The “we” that Oscar sees himself as part of is overcomplicated and not truly what he thinks it is at all. He thinks he is part of the community of Dominicans that exists in his mind but he sees as exiting in real life. He thinks this because of the way he when was young in his own mind was a ladies man and in his mind people thought of him as what would be known as a Womanizer, “It truly was a Golden Age for Oscar, one that reached its apotheosis in the fall of his seventh year when he had two little girlfriends at the same time, his first and only ménage à trois. With Maritza Chaćon and Olga Polanco.” (Pg. 26). This is truly not real for many reasons the “we” that he is actually part of is the stereotypical community of the American nerd, “Dude wore his neediness like a Jedi wore his light saber or a Lensman her lens.” (Pg. 38) The fat that he thinks he is part of the Dominican community is just him telling himself he is but it is truly all in his head. The “we” He is shown to the reader to be a member of is the American nerd community, “It seemed to Oscar that from the moment Maritza dumped him — Shazam! — his life started going down the tubes. Over the next couple of years he grew fatter and fatter.” (Pg. 31) Because of his mindset as a member of the Dominican community he thinks he should thinks he needs to be using girls for his ow purposes as following one of the Dominican stereotypes he knows, “He wasn’t “He wasn’t safe even in his own house, his sister’s girlfriends were always hanging out, permanent guests. When they were around he didn’t need no Penthouses. Her girls were not too smart but they were fine as shit: the sort of hot-as-balls Latinas who only dated weight-lifting morenos, or Latino cats with guns in their cribs.” (Pg. 45) He only truly realizes that he is a an American nerd when he asks his friends about getting him a girlfriend, “He realized his fucked-up, comic-book-reading, role-playing-game-loving, no-sports-playing friends were embarrassed by him.” (Pg. 49) So in many ways as much as Oscar is of Dominican descent the Dominican community is not the “we” that he is truly part of as much as he thinks he is, really the “we” he is part of as seen by the reader is the American nerd community.

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