The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao | Study Guide

Junot Díaz

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The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao | Part 3, Chapter 7 : The Final Voyage | Summary



Oscar uses the money Yunior gives him to fly back to Santo Domingo and calls Clives to pick him up. He tells Clives "the Ancient Powers" won't leave him alone, which is why he has returned. They park in front of Ybón's house and wait nearly seven hours for her to return. When she gets home, Oscar calls to her, and she tells him he needs to leave. He tells her he is in love with her. She tells Oscar she is going to call the Capitán, and Oscar should leave before he arrives. Oscar says he is not leaving, and lets himself into La Inca's house.

Curse of the Caribbean

For the next 27 days Oscar writes to and pursues Ybón, who avoids him. But she also worries he has been killed when she doesn't see him. The Capitán continues to call and threaten him, and Oscar continues to leave Ybón love letters. Finally one night she pulls up to his house and he gets in her truck. She drives him to a town where the Capitán doesn't know anyone. Lola and his mother fly down to convince him to return home, but nothing works.

The Last Days of Oscar Wao

One night Oscar and Clives are driving, and the two men who assaulted Oscar in the cane field get into the car at a stoplight. They drive him back to the cane fields, and Clives begs them to spare Oscar's life. Oscar tries to send telepathic messages to his family about how much he loves them and will miss them. The men tie Clives up and leave him in the car. Oscar tells them what they are doing is wrong. He tells them on the other side of death he will be an avenger and a hero. The two men shoot him.


Oscar's return to Santo Domingo doesn't come as a surprise, given his character's tenacity and stubbornness, even when it flies in the face of self-preservation. Here again his decisions echo those of both Abelard and Belicia, who chose to stay in a place they knew was dangerous to their well-being. Díaz poses the question of whether these decisions are really the result of a curse, or just a family trait of stubbornness and delusion. Oscar has so romanticized his relationship with Ybón that he fails to realize he is also putting her in harm's way, since the Capitán is physically abusive toward her as well.

Oscar's final trip to the cane fields is sealed with a sense of fate, both for the reader and for himself. He tells Clives, "it's the Ancient Powers ... they won't leave me alone." He seems to believe his decision to return is something beyond his control. The title of the novel reveals his life is both brief and wondrous, and he seems to see his impending death as inevitable. He even delivers a long speech to his abductors, in which he passes the curse along to them and their families for destroying the potential of something so wonderful as his relationship with Ybón. As Oscar returns so willingly to the scene of his beating, knowing what awaits him, Díaz poses the question of whether Oscar truly has a death wish, given his previous brushes with suicide. Yet he also seems imbued with a sense of power for the first time in his life, having made the decision to return to Santo Domingo despite the cost.

The symbols of the mongoose and the Man Without a Face return one final time to Oscar as he is driven to the cane field, with the mongoose driving a bus full of his family and the Man Without a Face collecting their tickets. Since the mongoose has been a harbinger of good luck—saving the lives of Belicia and Oscar—and the Man Without a Face has been an omen of the curse striking, it's significant that Oscar sees them together, with his family in tow. Díaz brings up the question of how the blessing works alongside the curse, and how at times they seem to be interchangeable and open to interpretation. Both Belicia and Oscar seem at times to be both blessed and cursed, suffering and being saved in the same moment. Díaz suggests here that both are integral, and that a blessing can also be a curse, and vice versa.

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