Study Guide

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao The Supernatural

By Junot Díaz

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 befall the characters in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao all relate back to a historical curse: fukú. In Yunior's opinion, everything comes back to fukú. The evil politicians of the novel, Trujillo included, are so formidable, you see, because they actually have supernatural powers. Certainly, the narrator wants you to believe fukú exists. But do you think the author wants us to believe in fukú? Or is he, instead, making a point about how people invoke the fantastic when they just can't explain why really terrible, and really wonderful, things happen in the world?

Questions About The Supernatural

  1. Do you believe Yunior's explanation of the de León family troubles? Is it all due to a curse? Or does Yunior explain too much away by invoking the supernatural?
  2. What are the good supernatural forces in the novel? How do they stack up against Trujillo and the fukú?
  3. What's the connection between Columbus and the curse? Why would Díaz identify Columbus's landing in the New World as the beginning of the curse?
  4. Why does Díaz give Trujillo and other Dominican dictators supernatural powers? Does the supernatural help us understand these dictators better? Or does it only obscure them?