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Brief, Nameless, Lives

Brief, Nameless, Lives - Jason Mull Final Paper English 1B...

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Jason Mull 12-09-08 Final Paper English 1B “Brief, Nameless Lives” At the very beginning of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao , before even starting the prelude, Diaz provides us with a quote. Its source is not poetry or prose. It is not derived from a Pulitzer Prize winner, but rather, a comic book. It is from Stan Lee’s Fantastic Four, and goes as follows: “Of what import are brief, nameless lives…to Galactus ??” Galactus, in the Marvel Universe, has been described as being the physical embodiment of the cosmos. Galactus, in all his infinite power, has the ability to restructure molecules, teleport objects, mutate matter, and manipulate souls, memories and emotions. And to boot, he devours planets for sustenance. His power is unending, and, as stated, he is indifferent to “brief, nameless lives.” It is these lives, though, which Diaz’s novel acts as a celebration of. He gives names to the nameless, and endows them with detailed pasts and stories and dreams and desires. It is a reaction and objection to the authoritarian Galactus’ of the world, who suppress and dehumanize their people. It is a commemoration of the profundity inherent in the ordinary, and a testament to the importance and beauty of every single life. Rafael Trujillo, the real life former dictator of the Dominican Republic, like Galactus is seen “not as a man,” but a “cosmic force” (204). He was indifferent to the sufferings of his
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people. To Trujillo, citizens were like cattle. They were slaughtered, raped, and beaten on a whim. He treated the Dominican Republic as “his very own plantation, acted like he owned everything and everyone, killed whomever he wanted to kill, sons, brothers, fathers, mothers, took women away from their husbands on their wedding nights and then would brag publicly about the ‘great honeymoon’ he’d had the night before” (225). He cared nothing for family ties, or personal relationships. He stripped his citizens of their essential humanity. He saw them not as “sons, brothers, fathers, mothers,” or “necessary individual[s],” but as nameless, soulless, animals (215). Diaz not only compares Trujillo to Galactus, but to the antagonist of a famous Twilight Zone episode as well. The episode describes a “monstrous white kid with the godlike powers who rules over a town that is completely isolated from the rest of the world…the white kid is vicious and random and all the people in the ‘community’ live in straight terror of him.” There is, indeed something almost sadistically childlike and impulsive about Trujillo’s gross indifference to his people. Why, though, does Diaz continually compare Trujillo to fictional, exaggerated science fiction stories? Some “might roll [their] eyes at the comparison,” but “it
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Brief, Nameless, Lives - Jason Mull Final Paper English 1B...

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