Study Guide

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Sex

By Junot Díaz

Sex

Chapter 1
Lola de León

When [Oscar] returned to the house his sister said, Well?

[Oscar:] Well what?

[Lola:] Did you f*** her?

[Oscar:] Jesus, Lola, he said, blushing.

[Lola:] Don't lie to me.

[Oscar:] I do not move so precipitously. He paused and then sighed. In other words, I didn't even get her scarf off.

[Lola:] Sounds a little suspicious. I know you Dominican men. She held up her hands and flexed the fingers in playful menace. Son pulpos [They are octopuses]. (1.1.5.32-1.1.5.38)

Even Lola gauges the success of intimate relationships by how physically close the two people get. Oscar tries not to do this ("I do not move so precipitously"), but he also gets caught up in wanting others to view him as more of a ladies' man.

Oh, they got close all right, but did they ever kiss in her car? Did he ever put his hands up her skirt? [...]. Did they ever f***?

Poor Oscar. Without even realizing it he'd fallen into one of those Let's-Be-Friends Vortexes, the bane of nerdboys everywhere. These relationships were love's version of a stay in the stocks, in you go, plenty of misery guaranteed and what you got out of it besides bitterness and heartbreak nobody knows. Perhaps some knowledge of self and women. (1.1.6.2-1.1.6.3)

We're fairly certain that Oscar doesn't want to just be friends with the girl in question here. But don't forget that Yunior's doing all the talking here. And Yunior, let it be said, would certainly describe a sexless relationship as bleak. So be wary of Yunior's interpretation of events. (Don't get us wrong. Oscar wants to fall in love and have sex. But sex is much more important to Yunior than it is to Oscar.)

Chapter 2

That night while we lay in Aldo's sweltering kitty-litter-infested room I told him: I want you to do it to me.

He started unbuttoning my pants. [Aldo:] Are you sure?

Definitely, I said grimly.

He had a long, thin dick that hurt like hell, but the whole time I just said, Oh yes, Aldo, yes, because that was what I imagined you were supposed to say while you were losing your "virginity" to some boy you thought you loved. (1.2.1.48-1.2.1.51)

When Oscar loses his virginity late in the novel, the circumstances aren't perfect either. But Oscar's experience is a lot more fulfilling than Lola's. Lola doesn't enjoy her first time at all. She only pretends to. Yikes.

Chapter 3

Skilled our Gangster became in many a perfidy, but where our man truly excelled, where he smashed records and grabbed gold, was in the flesh trade. Then, like now, Santo Domingo was to popóla [slang for female genitalia] what Switzerland was to chocolate. And there was something about the binding, selling, and degradation of women that brought out the best in The Gangster; he had an instinct for it, a talent – call him the Caracaracol of Culo [Trickster of Ass]. (1.3.9.6)

We don't want to get all feminist on you, but. Oh wait, yes we do. Here, The Gangster does what most of the men in Wao do: treat women badly. In this book, men treat women like objects. They use them and toss them aside when they're done. Trujillo. Jack Pujols. The Gangster. The capitán… Need we say more?

Later, after [Beli'd] been with The Gangster, she would realize how little respect Pujols had for her. But since she had nothing to compare it to at this time she assumed f***ing was supposed to feel like she was being run through with a cutlass. The first time she was scared s***less and it hurt bad (4d10), but nothing could obliterate the feeling she had that finally she was on her way, the sense of a journey starting, of a first step taken, of the beginning of something big. (1.3.7.1)

Um, that Jack Pujols character is a total jerk. He might be the worst boyfriend in the novel, excepting Ybón's capitán boyfriend. Okay, we can move on now. It's startling how Lola's motivations for having sex are so much like Beli's. Both feel restless as adolescents. Sex satisfies that restlessness, if only just for a moment.

Chapter 4

Why is this the face I can't seem to forget, even now, after all these years? Tired from working, swollen from lack of sleep, a crazy mixture of ferocity and vulnerability that was and shall ever be Lola.

She looked at me until I couldn't stand it anymore and then she said: Just don't lie to me, Yunior.

I won't, I promised.

Don't laugh. My intentions were pure. (1.4.1.218-1.4.1.221)

We love Yunior despite his faults. And one of his faults is that he cheats on just about every girl he dates. Lola and Yunior are getting busy in this passage. Lola tells Yunior not to hurt her. Of course, Yunior will later cheat on Lola. He just can't help himself, we guess. (Though that seems like kind of a lame excuse.)

Act 2, Preface

I didn't bother with the romance. I let him take me to a love motel on our first "date." He was one of those vain politicos, a peledeísta [part of the Democratic Liberation Party], had his own big air-conditioned jípeta [SUV]. When I pulled my pants down you never saw anybody so happy.

Until I asked him for two thousand dollars. American, I emphasized. (2.preface.8-2.preface.12)

When Lola and Beli hit puberty and turn into really sexy women, they talk about their newfound power. This is an example of Lola taking a man for everything he's worth. She's not proud of it; this isn't one of her best moments. That said, she does give the money to Max's grieving mother. Which is a pretty good cause, in our opinion.

Chapter 6

The first feel of a woman's body pressing against yours – who among us can ever forget that? And that first kiss – well, to be honest, I've forgotten both of these firsts, but Oscar never would. For a second, he was in disbelief. This is it, this is really it! Her [Ybón] lips plush and pliant, and her tongue pushing into his mouth. And then there were lights all around them and he thought I'm going to transcend! Transcendence is miiine! (2.6.14.6)

Oscar is about to get a beatdown from Ybón's capitán boyfriend, but we can't help but feel happy for Oscar in this moment. He's waited so long to kiss a woman. Or just to be close to a woman. Now it's finally happening. It is just a kiss, but given how long Oscar has to wait for the kiss, this moment warrants a word, like "transcendence."

He [Oscar] wrote that Ybón had little hairs coming up to her almost her bellybutton and that she crossed her eyes when he entered her but what really got him was not the bam-bam-bam of sex – it was the little intimacies that he'd never in his whole life anticipated, like combing her hair or getting her underwear off a line or watching her walk naked to the bathroom or the way she would suddenly sit on his lap and put her face into his neck. The intimacies like listening to her tell him about being a little girl and him telling her that he'd been a virgin all his life. He wrote that he couldn't believe he'd had to wait for this so goddamn long. (Ybón was the one who suggested calling the wait something else. Yeah, like what? Maybe, she said, you could call it life.) He wrote: So this is what everybody's always talking about! Diablo [devil]! If only I'd known. The beauty! The beauty! (3.final letter.4)

In this last paragraph of the novel, we discover that Oscar does have sex with Ybón. More importantly, we find out that Ybón did love Oscar. We find all of this pretty darn moving. Díaz spends so much of the book documenting the forces of evil in this world—despair, loneliness, colonialism, Trujillo—but he ends it all with this passage. He ends it all with a letter that affirms life and beauty and unicorns and rainbows.