The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao discussion


192 views
Mongoose

Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)    post a comment »
dateDown_arrow    newest »

Kristen Does anyone have a comment about the symbolism of the mongoose in this novel?


Armand You know- that was one thing that stuck with me about this book (I read it over a year ago). I wonder if Junot Diaz might have commented on it in an interview somewhere?


Kristen Hmm. I just did a quick search "His family continues to be a strong presence in his writing. The fantastical elements of magic realism have been one of the most widely recognized aspects of Latin American literary canon, evolving in more recent years into the Macondo vs. McOndo debate. Seemingly counter-intuitively, the moment in which magic realism is most present in Oscar Wao is also the part most derived from real life; towards the end of the novel, a mystical mongoose comes to Oscar’s aid, a creature which Díaz explains comes directly from family lore.
“My mother got lost when she was young in a coffee plantation (my father used to grow coffee) and she was lost for like three days and everyone thought she died and by the third day they just went and bought fucking—I mean, it shows you the difference, if a child were lost for three days today, we would still have hope, we would still be looking, but in the DR they were like ‘Three days? ’That kid’s fucking dead man’—they went out and bought funeral clothes, they were going to bury this little outfit and then my mother shows up. And my mother tells this story and she was like I had gotten lost and was just desperate and this mongoose came up and was like ‘you lost?’ ‘Well, I’m tired right now but I’ll come back tomorrow and lead you out.’ So he did and my mother arrived home the next day.”
Given the presence of magical mongoose in Oscar Wao, one might think that they are some sort of national animal, a kind of mascot, in the Dominican Republic, yet Díaz says, “Most Dominicans don’t even know we have mongooses. . . . If I can claim any fame, it’s singlehandedly reminding the pueblo dominicano that we have mongooses.”


Armand Thanks Kristen- I would never have guessed that it was his own, personal history.


Michelle Very interesting! I always wondered why he put that in there, thanks. So do you think its purpose was just to symbolize the prevalent presense of magical thinking in Latin America?


Armand BunWat wrote: "Maybe it symbolized a mongoose."

wise guy...


Armand Michelle wrote: "Very interesting! I always wondered why he put that in there, thanks. So do you think its purpose was just to symbolize the prevalent presense of magical thinking in Latin America?"

My guess based on the Junot Diaz quote above is that it might hint at magical realism, but it's also "a found story" from his own family history:

...a creature which Díaz explains comes directly from family lore...

Kind of like adding a bit of your grandmother's sweater to the big, patchwork quilt.


Tyler I was curious about this myself. Thanks for the insight!


Eric BunWat wrote: "Maybe it symbolized a mongoose."

Zing ...

In all seriousness, a lot of contemporary writing is pretty ironic. Junot seems like a funny guy; I would not be surprised if this was an ironic middle finger pointed to all the McOndo stuff out there. :)


message 10: by Karl (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karl Have you guys read the preface?
or the book? :-)

Faceless man=Fuku is doom and curses.
Mongoose=Zafa is protective and hopeful.


message 11: by Karl (last edited Dec 08, 2011 05:12AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karl Even though the family appears cursed and ruined throughout time (Well, at least a few generations in the time we know, you must remember we have a limited and unreliable narrator in JUNIOR), they are not without luck or protectors. Examples of this can be found in the rescue of Oscar's mother, and oscar's own first rescue and his eventual weekend of passion with his love.

We might have an unreliable narrator but Diaz has said in interviews that the footnotes do act in the manner of a reliable Jester contesting his King in court.
The two narratives could be seen as being at odds with eachother.


back to top

all discussions on this book | post a new topic


Books mentioned in this topic

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (other topics)