Women In The Fiction Of Junot Diaz Research Paper

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Women, Family, Literature, Parents, Mother, Society, Life, Light

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2023/02/22

Junot Diaz is the promising Dominican American creative writer who attempts to unveil the typical human quandary, reminiscence, experience and concentrates on struggles, hindrance, exasperation and wishes challenged by the Dominican immigrants in the Dominican Republic and the New Jersey. As an immigrant Diaz encounters the conflicts and psychological issues of the refugees that put him at ease in producing hybrid characters. Diaz’s characters are the common people who are placed in challenging circumstances and the readers get a wholesome view of the society in which they lives. Diaz is famous for two of his works, the novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and the short story collection Drown. He is also the author of This Is How You Lose Her that received wide critical attention. Ada Ortuzar-Young points out:
Eight of the nine stories in the collection revolve around relationships with women. The narration oscillates between the first and second person, thus shedding light into both the perspectives of his female characters and Yunior himself. In the eyes of the women he has loved, all Dominican men are cheaters; they are overtly flirtatious and cannot be trusted in matters of love. At times, the stories reveal the power of romantic love, but they are also tainted with a dosage of machismo (806).
The present paper attempts to analyse the plight of women in these works of fiction by Diaz and how the author places women in the contemporary society.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao portrays the life of the Dominican boy, Oscar De Leon, living in New Jersey. The novel explores history, vehemence, diaspora and Oscar’s frequently stifling shortfalls of love. What makes Oscar different and constantly oppressed by the hyper -sexualized situations he dwells in is that he has an upsetting obsession:
What he used to feel for those girls he’d never really known was nothing compared to the amor he was carrying in his heart for Ana. It had the density of a dwarf-motherfucking-star and at times he was a hundred percent sure it would drive him mad. The only thing that came close was how he felt about his books; only the combined love he had for everything he’d read and everything he hoped to write came even close (45).
While Yunior, the resilient and serially disloyal raconteur, copes to conjoin his idea of Dominican virility with artistic writing, Oscar, grieves due to his eccentric and obdurate personality:
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. Pa’ ’fuera! his mother roared. And out he would go, like a boy condemned, to spend a few hours being tormented by the other boys—Please, I want to stay, he would beg his mother, but she shoved him out—You ain’t a woman to be staying in the house—one hour, two, until finally he could slip back inside unnoticed, hiding himself in the upstairs closet, where he’d read by the slat of light that razored in from the cracked door. Eventually, his mother rooting him out again: What in carajo is the matter with you? (22)
Diaz’s portrayal of women in his novels is often questioned and criticized. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao projects women in a morbid light where women are reified as symbols of sex and objects of desire. It is really unbearable to witness when women’s worth seems to be measured on their capability to entice men. Hypatía Belicia Cabral, known by the name Beli, the mother of Oscar and Lola, grows up in the midst of troubles and difficulties and only feels happy when she comes to realize that men likes her and that she has the charm to attract them:

The novelist creates another female character Olga who goes crazy and has a very troublesome childhood days:

Olga, on the other hand, was no friend of the family. She lived in the house at the end of the block that his mother complained about because it was filled with puertoricans who were always hanging out on their porch drinking beer. ,Olga smelled on some days of ass, which is why the kids took to calling her Mrs. Peabody (13)
Oscar, her companion, on the contrary succeeds and what stands in between them is the power of powerlessness of male and female gender. Olga, like other women, concentrates on grabbing male attention considers it as her sole aim and ends up as a fat and dreadful teenager. Olga is horrifyingly and disgustingly presented by Diaz and her plight brings in a sense of paradox and unease in the minds of the readers:
And Olga? Nobody knew exactly. Rumor had it she tried to rob the local Safeway, Dana Plato style—hadn’t bothered to wear a mask even though everybody at the supermarket knew her— and there was talk that she was still in Middlesex, wouldn’t be getting out until they were all fifty(266).
Diaz also includes episodes of sexual harassment and physical torture of women by the patriarchal society and Diaz’s sense of normalcy and insouciance in the presentation of the women even highlights the attitude of society towards women. Beli’s strange attitude disturbs the mother- daughter relationship between Beli and Lola and Beli cannot be criticized as social circumstances make the way she is and she turns out to be a tough and insensitive woman. It is quite shocking to realize that even women stand in opposition to women and it’s disgusting when Lola points out the darkness of her mother’s skin and Beli even encounters scorn and contempt for her dark skin tones. Even Lola finds it difficult to survive in the society with her straight hair as the society supports curly hair which again limits the freedom of women. The society projects a paradoxical environment for women where they are detained from securing certain necessary traits and also contempt them for not possessing certain desirable qualities like the light skin.
Diaz’s Drown is the collection of ten short stories published in the year 1996. The stories portray the difficulties and predicaments faced by the immigrant Dominican men in New Jersey. In these stories the women are portrayed from a discrete male outlook. They appear as delicate, weak characters who conform to the traditional bondages entrusted upon them by the patriarchal society, but also oppose the upheavals and also appear as persons who can effortlessly be seduced. The women as the years progress remain in the shadow of either husbands or sons who ought to protect them from dangers thus declining their individuality. This is How You Lose Her is the collection of short stories that once more marginalizes women by projecting them in poor light and Diaz makes women, most of the times, responsible for their own tragedies. Hannah Fraser LeGris points out:
For the women in [all] these stories, their intense loyalty sabotages their personal lives; troubling issues with infidelity and emotional paralysis ruin the men. Oscar’s mother, Belicia, nearly dies from a ghastly beating in a cane field that she endures in the name of love; Yunior’s mother, Virta, almost starves waiting for his father to return to the Dominican Republic to bring them to the United States; Yunior’s father, Ramón, abandons his first family to start a second in the United States, and then abandons the second to return to the first; Yunior’s brother, Rafa, endlessly brags to Yunior about his sexual conquests and infidelities. Over the course of the two short story collections, Yunior’s father and brother have multiple girlfriends, mistresses, and women-on-the-side; Yunior himself seems addicted to meaningless affairs and sabotages the majority of his intimate relationships(6).

Works cited

Az, Junot. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. New York: Riverhead, 2007. Print.
. This Is How You Lose Her. New York: Riverhead, 2012. Print.
. Drown. New York: Riverhead, 1996. Print.
Young, Ada Ortuzar. "Review." American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese. Web. 25 Apr. 2015. <: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23608542>.

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