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Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Power

Power, power, power: everybody wants it, but not everybody can have it. And who's got the lion's share of this stuff in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao? Who owns (or pwns) the other characters...

The Supernatural

You can't talk about ghosts, spells, and curses without asking the following question: do they really exist? The narrator, Yunior, spends a lot of time trying to convince us that the troubles that...

Foreignness and the Other

Wouldn't you feel like an outsider if you were a Dominican living all the way in Paterson, New Jersey, of all places? But don't get too confident about your understanding of foreignness in The Brie...

Gender

Have you ever noticed that pretty much all of the villians in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao are men? That's no coincidence, Shmoopers. Wao recounts the abuses of colonial powers on island na...

Love

Ah, love: a blessing, or a curse? We at Shmoop can't decide whether or not love is the real curse in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. On the one hand, love gets almost every major character in...

Identity

Imagine that you're at a family reunion. You're talking to your uncle Ralph. He happens to be wearing the same clothes he wore at the last family reunion, and he also happens to be telling you the...

Youth

For some kids (maybe kids on the Disney channel?) puberty is an easy transition. But for the characters in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, puberty couldn't hit any harder.These guys and gals...

Sex

If you're watching a baseball between the Yankees and the Red Sox, and the commentators are obsessed with the Yankees, you're going to hear a lot about the Yankees. Right? It's sort of like that wi...

Literature and Writing

Boy, oh boy: our man Oscar loves to read and write just about as much as Yunior loves to have sex. Although the characters in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao don't say a ton about writing, it'...
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