Yunior in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao | Character Analysis
In the novel, Yunior is the character that tells about the families and how strange curses sometimes clutch them. He relates the events of the story back to the subjects of fukú (a curse) and zafa (cure). Yunior relates to the tragedy that Oscar’s family history depicts, a result of fukú.
Yunior, as the protagonist of the story, draws the power of fukú through Oscar’s family. This act is symbolic as families when cursed, pass on the suffering through their hereditary.
Symbolically the curse fukú is lifted with the help of Yunior and this curse represents the afflictions every family has.
Yunior tries to help the Leon family by lifting the fukú curse. This is an indication of the moral character Yunior possesses. He is a person of high moral values, just like a typical novel hero.
He tries to bring zafa, (which is the cure for fukú) to Leon’s family. Yunior hopes that by telling Oscar’s tale will be like the effect of zafa and will lift the curse of fukú from de León.
For Yunior, Trujillo’s rule and the adversities Oscar’s family faces are definitely fukú, but Yunior’s tale helps acting as zafa. Fukú and zafa, both relate to the hardships of immigration. This aspect relates to the themes of facing new worlds as well as the limits of one’s own world. Díaz portrays a solid character that has high moral grounds in the form of Yunior in the novel.
In the novel, the curse fukú is represented by a faceless man. The family members of Leon see this faceless man rocking a chair. This faceless man can be related to the loss of identity when people migrate to other places.
In these desperate times when the curse of fukú seems to concrete, too real, Yunior believes that by telling the story Lola’s daughter would be able to break the spell. Yunior dreams that Oscar is the faceless man and seems perplexed. The novel doesn’t project Yunior as a superhero. In fact, he is shown confused on certain occasions. For instance, he can’t make sense of the faceless man. When he dreams of Oscar being the faceless man, then does that mean that the curse is not lifted yet? Yunior doesn’t have the answer to this. Furthermore, if the faceless man was Oscar than what of the faceless man that he saw previously? Yunior doesn’t have a clue.
The story shows Yunior as an ordinary man with a big heart. He’s depicted as someone close to reality and not some fantasized image.
The “Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” makes wide use of footnotes such that many characters of the story develop in the footnotes as well as in the main flow of the story. For instance, Yunior’s story keeps on going in the footnotes exactly the way it does in the main course of the novel.
From the footnotes, it gets even clearer that Yunior is a typical good guy trying to make a difference in the world. Just like those people who feel as if it’s their obligation to fix things right. When recounting Oscar’s deep love for science fiction and fantasy literature, Yunior’s story keeps unfolding in the footnotes:
“Where this outsized love of genre jumped off from no one quite seems to know. It might have been a consequence being Antillean (who more sci-fi than us?)” (Diaz, 2007)
The story of Yunior, that carries on in the footnotes prompts the readers that a story never ends.
When Yunior is compared with the character of Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker (HCE) from the novel Finnegans Wake by James Joyce, there are very few similarities between the two that can be identified. HCE is quite a different character. He is a round character and is a father figure.
Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker
The father, Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, is the main protagonist of the book Finnegans Wake by James Joyce. This character is the dominant figure throughout the story. The book reflects emotions tied to Earwicker; his remorse, his weaknesses, and his mistakes encompass the entire book”.
There can be some ambiguity regarding the character of Earwicker. As the story unfolds and the reader goes through the constant flux of Earwickers character and characteristics, the reader might deduce that he is just a common man or the man next door. However, a deep understanding of the character would reveal that he has very unique characteristics that distinguish him and that is why he stands out as the protagonist of the story.
There are certain repeated aspects associated with the character that makes him stand out as a particular Dubliner. However, in some ways, he is a flat (fixed) character and can be considered just a devoted protestant who has a Scandinavian ancestry. He can be easily related to the profession of pub-keeping as well as a person that enjoys his life living with his wife, two sons and a daughter in the suburbs of Chapelizod.
Literally speaking, Earwicker is mentioned by thousands of names in the book. The character names are fluid, and the adjectives and names attached to characters are transitional (Killeen, 2008).
For instance, at the beginning of the book, Earwicker is mentioned as “Harold or Humphrey Chimpden”; and then an amalgamation of these names as “Haromphreyld”, and as a result of his initials HCE, “Here Comes Everybody”. These initials appeared many times in the book; for instance, in the book opening sentence it is mentioned as “Howth Castle and Environs”.
In the book, the names associated with Earwicker’s character take on many forms. He is called “Mr. Porter”, “Finn MacCool” and “Mr. Makeall Gone” in the course of the book.
Días, O. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. New York: Riverhead, 2007. Print.
“Finnegans Wake.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 19 Apr. 2012. Web. 24 Apr. 2012. .
Killeen, Terence. “Hypermedia Joyce Studies, VOLUME 9, NUMBER 1, 2008 ISSN 1801-1020.” Web. 24 Apr. 2012. .
Joyce, James. “Finnegans Wake 2.1.244.” Trent University. Web. 24 Apr. 2012. .