The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Summary and Analysis of Epigraph and Prologue


The first epigraph is from the comics Wonderful Four: “Of what import are quick, nameless lives … to Galactus??”

The second is a poem written by Derek Walcott, “The Schooner Flight.” The poem describes the poet’s mixed heritage and his upbringing on an island. The last two lines of the poem are, “I have Dutch, nigger and English in me,/ and either I’m nobody or I’m a country.”


The narrator introduces fukú americanus, or fukú for brief. A fukú is a curse that concerned Antilles when the Europeans arrived on the islands. The narrator asserts that fukú is “genuine as shit” which the Dominican dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo Molina had a direct relationship with fukú. A footnote states Trujillo was the totalitarian of the Dominican Republic from 1930-1961. Trujillo was likewise called El Jefe (the boss), the Failed Livestock Thief, and according to the narrator, Fuckface. The footnote states that Trujillo’s significant accomplishments as totalitarian consist of altering all of the names of all of the national landmarks to honor him, and of devoting mass genocide against the Haitians and Haitian-Dominican community.

If anybody speaks or acts against Trujillo then that person will be cursed. The storyteller utilizes John F. Kennedy, the former American President, as the prime example because JFK gave his approval for the CIA’s assistance in equipping Trujillo’s assassins. Not just did JFK die in a dreadful assassination, but his family also remained cursed. Then the narrator speaks to the reader, ensuring him/her that it is fine if he/she does not think in this curse because “fukú believes in you.”

The story that the narrator will tell is about Oscar de León, and how his household is cursed. The narrator believes that Oscar would not like the designation of “fukú story” since of Oscar’s preference for the genres sci-fi and dream.

Lastly, the storyteller notes that a person word can produce a counterspell against menstruation, Zafa. Stating zafa was more popular in the past than it is now, and was used more in the countryside than in the city. The narrator states that writing this story is his own counterspell to menstruation.


The book’s discourse in between United States pop culture and Caribbean history is established through the epigraphs. The comics’s referral to anonymous lives suggests that regular lives are not important to those in power. On the other hand, Walcott’s poem suggests that an anonymous life is actually quite essential due to the fact that those lives form a country. Therefore the protagonist, Oscar, is both a nobody whose life occurs in the realm of the common, AND a representation of the Dominican country, creating a synecdoche that goes both ways.

The beginning’s concentrate on fukú offers the context for the book. Fukú is something that affects the country and people. The conversation of fukú also presents the supernatural element to the story. The author utilizes anthropomorphism to explain fukú, giving it qualities such as persistence, saying it constantly eats first, and asserting that fukú is “tight” with the dictator Trujillo. In fact, the fukú is so much like a human character that one might even state that fukú is the true villain of the book.

The historical context of the story can be found in the prologue. The storyteller provides the history of Trujillo’s dictatorship in the Dominican Republic by means of footnote. The tone of the footnote is exceptionally sarcastic, negative, and bitter– qualities that the narrator will continue to demonstrate throughout the text.

The author alludes to other texts. Fukú is compared to Darkseid’s Omega Result and Morgath’s bane. Darkseid, is a DC comic character and Morgoth’s bane is from Tolkein’s works– currently Díaz draws resemblances in between Dominican elements of his story and American pop culture.

Near completion of the beginning, the author briefly mentions Gabriel García Márquez’s unique 100 Years of Solitude. The storyteller points out Macondo, the town featured in that text. The text and the town are carefully associated with wonderful realism, therefore hinting that Oscar Wao will include some wonderful components. The beginning associate Macondo with traditional ideology (i.e. that zafa works to counter fukú); but on the other hand there is McOndo, which is a literary movement that focused on the city Latino/a experience. In the novel Díaz checks out the discourse between the two.

The beginning is an exposition on what the book will focus on, and how and why it is necessary to the characters in the novel along with to the storyteller. The storyteller is defined by his continuous use of slang and his insertion of Spanish words without discussing their meaning. Coming out of the beginning, the reader should be gotten ready for an experience with the storyteller’s stylized and possibly undependable interpretation of events.