Unit 1, Day 1: Mon. Feb. 6th

Read the first 7 pages of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao  by Junot Diaz Don’t forget to read the footnotes! Answer the following questions on OpenLab! 

    • What did you think of this piece? Be honest! Why? Explain! 
    • What do you find difficult or confusing? Be specific! Point out particular passages that confused you and explain why you were confused.  What do you think the writer may have been trying to do?  Find a particular passage that was difficult and explain specifically where you got caught up and why. I get it. This seems like a really strange thing to do– but there’s a point to it!  The places you have difficulty are where you’re doing your best thinking.  The places you struggle are the places PhD students struggle too.  Difficulties aren’t walls to stop you but obstacles that you can (and will) overcome!
    • How does the author use footnotes? Why do you think he makes this choice?
    • What discourse community does Oscar Wao belong to? What word is important to his DC?  Why does this word matter? What does it teach outsiders about his DC?  


  1. Santiago Jimenez

    I thought the reading was interesting because of how much myth it has incorporated in it. I didn’t really find it difficult because there is a lot of Latino cultural references that I’m familiar with and I also come from taking Latin America in the US class I took the previous semester.I think the author’s reason for writing this piece of literature is to entertain and to inform. A sentence that I struggled with was “I have a twelve-daughter uncle in the Cibao who believed that he’d been cursed by an old lover never to have male children.” In this sentence I didn’t understand what he was referring to until I read it two more time then I understood that it was an example the writer was making. The author uses footnotes to give the reading an informal tone making it more relatable and seem like he is having a conversation with himself. Oscar Wao is part of the  Latino community. Something that his DC would find important is their heritage,  history and by him writing about his community it well comes other people from his community to participate in the discussion. The reading teaches people of other communities about how important his community holds its history and folklore.

  2. KarriemTaylor

    Honestly, I did not enjoy reading this piece. I found reading this piece to boring and confusing at times. Also, I didn’t like that history was talked about so much in this piece.

    What I found confusing was when Junot Diaz started to explain and talk about history and war. For example, a passage in the book “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” I found confusing was. “It might interest you that just as the U.S, was ramping up its involvement in Vietnam, LBJ launched an illegal invasion of the Dominican Republic (April 28, 1965). (Santo Domingo was Iraq before Iraq was Iraq.) A smashing military success for the U.S., and many of the same units and intelligence teams that took part in the “democratization” of Santo Domingo were immediately shipped off to Saigon.” I was confused because I don’t have much knowledge on war and the terminology like “LBJ” and “democratization”, so when Diaz not only started talking about war but started using words that I don’t know it made it much harder and confusing for me to understand and follow along with the piece. I think Diaz was trying to tell us about Fuku effecting the U.S. during a war. Another passage in the book that confused me was “Fuku americanus, or more colloqui-ally, fukú–generally a curse or a doom of some kind; specifically the Curse and the Doom of the New World. Also called the fuki of the Admiral because the Admiral was both its midwife and one of its great European victims; despite “discovering” the New World the Admiral died miserable and syphilitic, hearing (dique) divine voices.” I think Diaz was trying to tell the readers the history of Fuku.I found this whole passage confusing because there was some things previously in the book when Diaz started explaining the history of Fuku that I didn’t get, and this passage just expanded more on it.

    The author uses footnotes to go into more detail about what he was talking about. I think he makes this choice because he wanted the reader to be informed on the topic he was talking about.

    The discourse community that Oscar Wao belongs to is the Dominican Republic. The word that is important to his discourse community is Fuku. This word matters because it is believed to be a powerful curse on people’s lives that so many people have stories and experiences with. It teaches outsiders that their discourse community has their own beliefs.

  3. Miguel

    · I don’t like this piece very much. When I was reading, many things puzzled me. It was very difficult for me to understand what kind of information or message the author wanted to express.

    · “It’s perfectly fine if you don’t believe in these ” superstitions . ” In fact , it’s better than fine-it’s perfect . Because no matter what you believe , fukú believes in you .” I am so confuse of this passage  because Fuku is like a curse in Dominican and I don’t know what the author means in no matter what you believe,because Fuku believe in you.  I think what the author wants to express in this passage is the evil of Fuku’s curse, which will always follow you wherever you are.

    · The author used a very long footnote as long as a paragraph, which I think the author chose to write in this form because it gives us more details about what happened back then.

    · The author belongs to the discourse communityof the Dominican republic, and the share or command thing the fuku cursebetween them. The author teaches that outsiders should have something to believe in and respect.

  4. Mamadou

    a) Given I’ve read this book in senior year with my AP class, I am 100% certain that this is a book that is wrapped within its own challenges. To preface, I didn’t really like this read the first time I read it as you know, my teacher at the time would pump out long answer questions faster than Lin Manuel Miranda could narrate the book in his own audio version. It was not the fact that it got me confused, it’s really because I do not feel the urge to have to read this book in its entirety again.

    b) There’s nothing difficult (well for me) with the text. The author, Junot Diaz, demonstrates a high intellect creating plots within the book and describing the many unique characters the book has had to offer. The motif of ‘Fuku‘ accurately displays constant curses within that group of people, which seems to be the main focal illustration of hardship.

    c) The main objective of using footnotes, especially for Diaz’s book, is to build upon or expand on a certain narrative and/or part of the text. The narrator, who we don’t know yet (:wink:), uses this many times in the book as a form of expanding the thought processes of a narrative and or character action.

    d) The main discourse community Oscar Wao belongs to is the Dominican Republic, adjoined by all of the curses (fuku) which surrounds the family. This word is super important to his discourse community as it constantly shows up in the text, once again signaling curses. It teaches outsiders something grave about his own community, and where he belongs to.

    • Mamadou

      adding on to question 2

      • If I were to locate a quote part from the passage which stumbled me the first, it would be when the narrator states, “But be assured: like Darkseid’s Omega Effect, like Morgoth’s Bane, no matter how many turns and digressions this shit might take, it always–and I mean always–gets its man”. To be fair, the sheer combination of text can stumble anyone reading this the first few times.
  5. Gregory

    I liked it. I don’t particularly believe in superstitions, if anything I found them pretty silly, but they’re always interesting to look at. They always give this feeling of magic and the dangers that come with it…when appropriate of course. When it’s not it just comes off as the antics of the insane.

    What I found confusing is how the author made the late dictator Trujillo a saint of sorts to Fuku. While no one who has any sense of who the man was will deny that he was a human plague, a rat, that managed to violate the people of not the the Dominican Republic but of the people of Hispanolia as a whole; to say that he was a servant to Fuku, I can’t help but feel that he is glorifying the dictator. Not glorifying him in a good way, if anything the author is making him a character comparable to one of Satan’s demons, but he puts him on a throne of sorts. The author may have been trying to just use him as an epiphany of sorts for the curse, as the top dog of the Fuku’s malice to mankind, but to me it just felt odd to speak about such a figure like that.

    The author uses footnotes to give background that is relevant to whatever he’s talking about in that page. As for the reason, it’s because his audience is Americans/foreigners. The best evidence for this is the fact that this is written in English, as such the author has to provide historical context. Because his audience’s knowledge of Hispanolia’s history is about as known to them as a dog is to its own reflection.

    The discourse community that the author belongs to is the Dominican Republic. The word Fuku is super important to his discourse community because it is believed to be a powerful curse on people’s lives that so many of the people he personally know have stories and experiences with it, as well as the strangers he met. It teaches outsiders that their community has their own culture and superstitions to accompany it.

  6. David Mahecha

    It took some time for me to comprehend the language used in this text as I understood what the words meant but all together it was starting to be overwhelming. That being said, I quite enjoyed the text. It was engaging as it was difficult to read (at first) and I never got bored.

    Going back to the language it’s clear the author enjoys twisting around large vocabulary while also incorporating spanish into their text to have us the reader be immersed into the history of the dictator known as Trujillo whose name himself brings calamity. I’d like to highlight page 4 in particular in that it didn’t so much confuse me but stood out to me the most, it mentions the supposed consequences of what conspiring or even thinking of conspiring to kill Trujillo meant that it was the reason both JFK and the Kennedies died, it was the reason we lost in Vietnam despite being on paper the superior army and workforce, in their terms it brought forth fuku. Fuku itself is calamity, its doom, a curse and all things evil. Now what’s interesting is that JFK was killed by Lee Harvey Oswald not Trujillo himself and America lost Vietnam for many reasons one of them being lack of preparation on the US militaries side and the vietnamese fighting on their soil unfamiliar to ours but the author wholeheartedly believes in the superstition.

    The author expertly uses footnotes to provide more context for us the reader to better understand his references or to simply give us a piece of their mind which further added to my enjoyment.

    Lastly the author belongs to the latino community specifically that of the Dominican republic, he consistently drops the word Fuku which is a powerful word and driving force in their history and apparently including ours which teaches me that superstition is is blended into reality with their culture and community.

  7. Justin He

    Having read Oscar’s journey I have mixed feelings about it. I don’t dislike or like it. It was interesting at some times but my attention span is so low it was hard to read it while retaining information.

    One thing that kind of confused me would be his use of slang and terminology since I’m not Dominican or Mexican it took me a while to understand what he was saying.

    His use of footnotes informs us more of what he talking about and helps us better understand what he’s about to say.

    I believe oscar wao belongs to the Dominican Republic community. The important word that he keeps using throughout his story is fuku and teaches outsiders or foreigners about his peoples beliefs or superstition

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