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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao | Motifs


Blank Pages

Throughout the novel, Yunior mentions the concept of páginas en blanco, or blank pages. Yunior mentions them in the context of the de León and Cabral family histories, of how there are many blank pages in their histories that seem to doom them to repeat themselves. Yunior links the blank pages to the family's curse, and both Abelard and Oscar allegedly write long manuscripts that go missing, leaving the possible pages they wrote blank for the reader to fill in. Blank pages also recur as a motif in dreams that both Oscar and Yunior have, sending both of them a message about how essential it is for them to write about the family's lost history in order to end its curse.


Dreams play an important and sometimes prophetic role as a recurring motif in the novel. The same symbols appear to different characters, such as the Man Without a Face, who appears in Socorro's, Oscar's, and Yunior's dreams. The Man Without a Face is a symbol of the family's curse, and his appearance tends to serve as a warning or caution that bad luck is about to strike. Oscar also dreams of the mongoose, who visited both Oscar and Belicia when they were near death, and his relatives, while Yunior dreams of Oscar and the book of blank pages. Díaz uses the motif of dreams to link the characters and their fates to one another, while also imbuing the novel with a magical realist element that their dreams mean something deeper and more ambiguous that affects their waking lives.

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