Study Guide

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Chapter 4

By Junot Díaz

Chapter 4

Sentimental Education 1988-1992

  • Our narrator (whose name is Yunior) tells us how he knows Oscar.
  • Yunior had some nuttiness the year before Oscar fell. Wait. Oscar fell? What does that mean?
  • Oscar will later attempt suicide, but we don't know that yet.
  • Here's the nutty thing Yunior does: he walks right through a crowd of tough kids. They beat the living daylights out of him.
  • And none of Yunior's friends come to see him in the hospital. But guess who does? Lola.
  • Lola takes care of Yunior. She gives him a sponge bath.
  • It's not a sexy sponge bath, because Yunior is pretty messed up. Too messed up for sexy times.
  • We're getting deeper into the story of Yunior, Lola, and Oscar. The youngest generation. The immigrant children.
  • Yunior is a sophomore at Rutgers.
  • You aren't supposed to care much in college about anything. But Yunior cares about Lola. Like, a lot. A lot a lot.
  • Lola and Yunior have a brief fling sophomore year.
  • She's with someone else, though, so she breaks things off with Yunior.
  • Oscar gets really depressed at the end of his sophomore year because a girl disses him.
  • He drinks two bottles of Bacardi 151 (read: throat-burning liquor). This is the worst idea we've heard in a while, and we've been reading all this stuff about that madman Trujillio.
  • Yunior offers to live with Oscar at Rutgers the next year to keep an eye on him.
  • You have to ask yourself this: does Yunior also want to get in good with Lola? The answer is: yes. Obviously.
  • Yunior is going to room with Oscar in Demarest dorm. It's a dorky dorm, but he's ready to swallow his pride and live there for Lola's sake. We mean Oscar's. Maybe.
  • In passing, Yunior mentions that he can bench 340 pounds. We're impressed.
  • Yunior isn't only thinking about Oscar. Yunior drew a low number in the housing lottery, so all of his options are less than awesome. He can live with Oscar, at home, or on the streets. He chooses Oscar.
  • Oscar tells Yunior that he's cursed. Yunior doesn't believe him.
  • By the way, sirens should be going off in your head: Mistake! Mistake! Yunior, there is a curse! Stay away from this family! But he doesn't.
  • Oscar and Yunior get along alright as roommates.
  • They don't see much of each other at first, but they do exchange stories.
  • We should explain: both Oscar and Yunior write short stories. Oscar writes fantasy/sci-fi stuff and Yunior writes about robberies and drug deals.
  • Yunior notices that Oscar really wants a girlfriend. And to have sex.
  • Because he was dumped by his girlfriend, and because he has nothing better to do, Yunior starts Oscar on a personal improvement plan. He calls it the Oscar Redemption Program.
  • What exactly does the Oscar Redemption Program involve?
  • The goal: get Oscar laid.
  • Its methods: wake Oscar up at 6 a.m. and make him jog. Also, train Oscar not to walk up to girls and say stupid things, and get him on a diet.
  • The Redemption Program goes well for a while. Then, one morning, Oscar refuses to get up and jog. Yunior is mad at Oscar for derailing the program.
  • The two have a shoving match.
  • This doesn't exactly get Lola's motors running. Not the good kind, anyway. Lola yells at Yunior over the phone from Spain about his treatement of Oscar. (She's studying abroad.)
  • Oscar and Yunior aren't as friendly with each other now. One might even say that Yunior is cruel to Oscar.
  • When Yunior sees Oscar dressed up for Halloween, Yunior tells Oscar that he looks like Oscar Wilde. What's Yunior talking about? Well, Oscar Wilde was a writer. He was also heavyset and gay. So, it's a pretty juvenile joke.
  • One of Yunior's friends asks: "Who is Oscar Wao?" This friend's Spanish accent seems to have interfered with his pronunciation of "Wilde." But the nickname sticks: now Oscar is Oscar Wao.
  • And now, the plot really gets going. Oscar meets a totally hot goth girl named Jenni.
  • Jenni's friends call her "La Jablesse," which, if you look it up, refers to a demon woman.
  • She's super sexy, but, surprisingly, she's also nice to Oscar.
  • You also have to wonder about the nickname "La Jablesse." Is the fukú back?
  • We're not sure, but Oscar wouldn't care if it were. He is straightup obsessed with Jenni. They start hanging out a lot.
  • This relationship inspires Oscar to kickstart his own self-improvement plan. He starts jogging again, on his own. He even irons his shirts in the morning.
  • Jenni basks in Oscar's attention.
  • She hugs Oscar when they meet. They walk arm in arm. You just know that Oscar is going to get his heart stomped on by this Jenni girl. Common sense tells us this.
  • It's not long before Jenni starts talking to a boy from another dorm. (We warned you.) He's a thin Lou Reed type.
  • Oscar is so distraught that he even stops writing. And Oscar never stops writing.
  • Things go from bad to worse. Oscar walks in on Lou Reed and Jenni doing it. Oscar goes berserk and tears down Jenni's posters. Yunior has to put Oscar in headlock to calm him down.
  • Trying to figure his life out, Oscar attends counseling. Meanwhile, Jenni moves to another dorm.
  • And Yunior and Oscar don't talk about living together again.
  • Yunior signs up for the school's housing lottery, and he ends up with a single. Which is great for Yunior, but bad for Oscar.
  • When Yunior tells him that he's living in a single next year, Oscar is shocked. He knows he and Yunior haven't been getting along too well lately, but he really thought they were bros. He thought they coulda been somebodies.
  • On their last night together in the dorm, Yunior buys Oscar some Cisco fortified wine. Oscar drinks two bottles.
  • But Yunior leaves because he's tired of dealing with the down-and-out, pathetic little Oscar. He also wants to see a girl.
  • Oscar drinks a third bottle of Cisco. Yikes.
  • He walks out to the New Brunswick train bridge with a bad plan: to end it all.
  • Looking out from the bridge, he sees something strange. Later, he calls it "the Golden Mongoose." Oh boy, here we go again.
  • Remember the mongoose who showed up in the cane when Trujillo's goons beat Beli?
  • Well, despite the appearance of this mongoose, Oscar jumps off the bridge.
  • It's possible that the mongoose saves Oscar, because Oscar should have landed on Route 18 or under a truck. Instead, he lands on the divider. It's not a concrete divider, either. It's one of those garden dividers. Which is much squisher and less trafficky than any of his other options.
  • Still, dude jumped off of a bridge. So he ends up breaking both of his legs and separating his shoulder. That sounds painful.
  • Yunior comes to visit him while he's in the hospital.
  • Later, he visits Oscar once in Paterson after the hospital lets Oscar go home.
  • There, Yunior tells Oscar that Oscar did a stupid thing. Oscar agrees, but also says that the fukú made him do it. This seems like some new kind of "my dog ate my homework" excuse, but it also seems pretty darn legit in Oscar's family.
  • Yunior talks to Lola on his way out. No sparks fly, but at least Lola doesn't actively hate on Yunior. They have a nice conversation.
  • Fast-forward to Yunior's senior year at Rutgers. Oscar shows up at Yunior's dorm.
  • Last Yunior heard, Oscar was subbing at his old high school and taking classes at the community college. Oscar looks good. He's lost weight, and he's keeping his hair trim. He says he'll return to Rutgers in the spring.
  • Oscar invites Yunior to visit him in Paterson. Yunior never does, but Oscar stops by to see Yunior at Rutgers instead.
  • That winter, Yunior runs into Lola on the bus. She's reading an Intro to Japanese textbook so she can teach English in Japan next year.
  • Yunior realizes how much he likes Lola. He realizes that Lola—unlike any of his other girlfriends—is somewhat of a mystery to him. And he really likes that.
  • He asks Lola to have dinner with him. He says he won't even try to take off her panties. She doesn't say yes, but...
  • Cut to Yunior and Lola making out. Lola tells Yunior that he better not lie to her. Ever. Yunior promises that he won't.
  • That spring, Yunior moves in with Oscar. Everyone is surprised.
  • The chapter ends with Yunior reading Oscar's journal.
  • After the suicide attempt, things looked pretty bleak for Oscar.
  • Oscar drove around a lot because he couldn't sleep. He dozed off at the wheel a couple times.
  • But thinking about Lola always brought Oscar back. Thinking about Lola seems to be bringing Yunior somewhere special too.