Study Guide

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Chapter 2

By Junot Díaz

Chapter 2

Wildwood 1982-1985

  • This chapter opens in the second person. You know, with someone saying "you" and all.
  • It becomes clear that Oscar's sister, Lola, is addressing herself.
  • We're going to use the second person just like the book. Just picture that you're Lola, and you're talking to yourself. Here goes.
  • Your mother calls you into the bathroom.
  • When you walk into the bathroom, your mother is "naked from the waist up, her bra slung about her waist like a torn sail" (1.2.1.3).
  • As you think about your mother, it's clear there's some tension between you.
  • Your mother asks you to put your hand on her breasts to feel for a lump. You feel it.
  • Your mother loses her breasts and her hair.
  • Then, the chapter switches to first person narration, with our girl Lola at the helm again. We're going to switch into the third person again, to avoid confusion. Here goes.
  • Lola becomes a punk girl. (We think this means she wears black and shaves her head.)
  • Her mother doesn't like this change one bit. Other kids seem to agree with Lola's mom; they make fun of her.
  • The last time Lola's mother tried to hit her, Lola slapped her hand. But now that she's sick, Lola isn't sure what to do.
  • Lola used to be responsible. She cooked and cleaned, bought groceries, and paid the bills. She did everything for her mother.
  • But recently, Lola started feeling strange: "a scary, witchy" feeling (1.2.1.14).
  • This "witchy" feeling might be the fuk├║ mentioned in the Preface. Or it might just be puberty. We're not sure.
  • Lola has her friend Karen cut her hair because she wants to be goth.
  • When Lola's mother sees her hair, she freaks. Like, totally loses it.
  • She tries to make Lola wear a wig, but Lola actually lights the thing on fire with the stove.
  • By now, Lola's mother is really sick with breast cancer.
  • Lola sees her mother's sickness as an opportunity to get free of her control.
  • It's clear that Lola's mother is a control freak. And a little crazy. But we also think that she loves Lola.
  • Lola runs away. Yes, this has been coming for a long time.
  • We think we understand what's happening here, but Lola likes to help a sister out. So she gives us the backstory for her escape.
  • One night, at dinner, Lola's mother announces that the doctor has to run more tests. The cancer is back. Lola responds by asking her to pass the salt. Her mother smacks her. They fight, and soon after, Lola leaves.
  • She goes to live with her boyfriend Aldo.
  • Lola tells Aldo she wants to have sex, and they do. That's how she loses her virginity. Romantic, right? Not exactly.
  • Things aren't swell at Aldo's place, either. Aldo's dad, Aldo Sr., is one mean dude.
  • Since the two Aldos don't really like each other, when Aldo the First starts working at the garage with Aldo the Second, both Aldos come home angry.
  • One day, Little Aldo tells a racist joke to his friends in front of Lola. Lola can't take his attitude anymore, so she calls home.
  • She tells Oscar to bring her stuff and some money to her. They agree to meet at a coffee shop.
  • Surprise, surprise: Lola's mother and uncle are there, waiting for her.
  • Lola takes off.
  • In the process, her mother falls down on the sidewalk. Her mother is crying. It sounds like she could be hurt.
  • Lola goes back to help her out. Bad move, Lola. Her mother was faking it. She grabs Lola, saying, "Ya te tengo [I have you now]" (1.2.1.87).
  • So what does Lola's mom want to do with her? She sends her to the Dominican Republic (hereafter the DR) to live with her abuela [grandmother].
  • While there, Lola starts running track, and her new friend helps her do her hair and makeup. She seems happy.
  • Lola says that she's getting that "witchy" feeling again.
  • A boy named Max has caught her eye. He drives movie reels from one theater to the next, but more importantly, he drives a motorcycle. Who doesn't love a guy with a motorcycle?
  • She and Max have sex at a motel because she thinks the bruja [witchy] feeling is love for Max.
  • But Lola can't sleep. She starts losing races for the track team.
  • Up late one night with her abuela, she looks at photos of her mother.
  • Lola says that her mother is pretty in the photos.
  • Her abuela says that her mother was a "diosa" [goddess] (1.2.1.99). But she also says that Lola's mother was hardheaded.
  • The bruja feeling is hitting Lola pretty hard. We're getting scared.