Junot Díaz and the New Englishes

In “The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao,” readers find a unique form of the English language influenced heavily by Dominican culture and the Spanish language. This unique and individualistic form of English harkens to the idea that English can be at once a universal language and a personal form of expression.  This particular dialect has much “glocal” import in that the audience can sense the cultural influence; the narrator, as well as the characters in the story, have a rich cultural background, and Díaz’s writing serves to illustrate that fact by giving readers cultural references and linguistic clues around which to build their perceptions of said characters. The author uses, in more than one instance, Spanish words in order to underscore Oscar’s or the narrator’s feelings, and makes mention of Dominican cultural norms in order to provide contrast to Oscar’s “unusual”  character. The idea that Dominican men are generally successful with women, for example, contrasts Oscars preference for science fiction and role-playing, in addition to his inability to find a romantic relationship.

One Response to “Junot Díaz and the New Englishes”

  1. Kim Sasser says:

    I want to pick up on an idea you toss out here at the end, the contrast between Oscar’s love of role-playing and, ironically in this light, his inability to perform the ideal Dominican man. It’s a compelling contrast. I wonder what we might make of this gap?

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