The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao: Coming of Age and Adulting

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In chapter three, the story sheds light on Beli during her youth years. A particular scene that attracts the concept of coming of age was the scene in which Beli develops into a beautiful woman, obtaining an astonishing physicality. Because of this transformation, Beli was initially ashamed of the male attention that she was receiving but realized she should be proud of her body. Although Beli reaches her coming of age, there was a hint of naivety when a local, married dentist gave her note asking to see her. The dentist was meeting her at the park with sexual intentions but Beli brought La Inca with her and the dentist fled. Beli uses her newly acquired body to catch the attention of her crush, Jack Pujols. With her power, she was able to seduce him, but it backfires when they are both caught having sexual relations in a closet at school. When scorned by the school, Beli defended her actions, since she was having sex with her future husband; a promise Jack made to her. Beli suffers her first heartbreak when she understood that Jack had used her for sex. This passage is interesting since a heartbreak can be considered a rite of passage. As the scandal was now known by the town, La Inca attempted to save Beli’s reputation by transferring Beli to another school, but she refused to and instead got a job. This is another example of coming of age in an adolescent.

At the beginning of chapter two, there’s a specific scene in which Junot Díaz focuses on Lola and her forceful coming of age. Lola tells the audience her side of the story, giving the main plot another dimension. She recalls her pen pal Tomoko and their eventual estrangement, around the age of eight, resulting in Lola’s mother belittling her for being unable to keep the friendship alive. After that occasion, Lola was constantly seeking Beli’s approval via assuming the housewife role for Oscar while Beli would work. She would never receive Beli’s approval. Lola’s coming of age reached the climax when she mentions being molested by a neighbor. When she confesses it to her mother, she is reprimanded and forced to suppress her trauma. This contributed to the present Lola that the audience is familiar with. At the age of twelve, when Beli received the cancer diagnosis, Lola gradually underwent a complete transformation – both physical and mental. With the help of her friend, Lola got rid of everything that reminded her of her molestation and the abuse of her mother. When Lola physically changed, Beli was outraged and attempted to exert her hegemony over Lola but Lola had reached her breaking point and began to rebel against her mother. She had a voice now. This particular passage is essential because it focuses on the rapid maturity of a Dominican Republican young girl caused by sexual abuse and her mother’s oppression.

In this chapter, the author focuses on Juana, a young Mexican girl who lives in an impoverished village in a wooden shack. A scene that was protruding was when one rainy night, Ama (Mom) and her daughters were waiting for Apa (Dad) to return to the shack. After hours of waiting and praying, Ama leaves Juana to care for her little sister, Anita, while she looked for Apa. Water had infiltrated the shack and it was flooded. Hunger and exhaustion were great in Juana and Anita. While Juana rocked Anita to sleep, she fell asleep as well, ignoring Anita’s cries of hunger. It was morning when Juana’s parents along with some men, returned, and Juana was awakened by Apa. Juana woke up with a missing sensation when everyone realized that Anita was missing. Everyone frantically looked in the flood for Anita except for Juana, who curled herself into a ball and covered her ears as Apa caught a drowned Anita and heard Ama’s wailings. In the funeral, Apa and Ama mourned Anita’s death together away from Juana. She realized it and excused herself from the room. When Apa joined her, she pleaded for forgiveness and knew that Ama would never forgive her. Especially since this was Ama’s third deceased daughter. The tragedy as well as Juana’s conversation with her dad is significant because Juana was a young girl who has been exposed to a traumatic experience many times and she had unintentionally killed her sister. The fact that Juana had begged for forgiveness indicated a loss of innocence as well as a rushed maturity. This was the start of her complete transformation.

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In Chapter 44, a scene in which signifies the climax of the story, also represents the coming of age of Juana. At some point, Adelina, who was a U.S. citizen, fled from her parents to Tijuana, Mexico and met Juana there. The scene that was crucial was Juana’s rape scene; she had been violently raped by Gerardo, Adelina’s abusive boyfriend. Gerardo took advantage of Juana while Adelina was out with her clients. After the rape, Juana was getting prepared to cross the U.S. border. When Adelina came home, she saw the beatings that Gerardo had given to Juana. Adelina had disproved Juana’s accusation, justifying Gerardo’s violent behavior to her absence. Juana asked Adelina to go away with her and flee her abusive boyfriend but her love for him was strong. In a moment of disbelief and trauma, Juana shouted that he had raped her. The women decided to leave. The plan was for Adelina to return to the U.S. and meet Juana there once she crosses the border. After a failed attempt to cross the border, Juana returned to Adelina’s place. She had been wondering where Adelina was and began to pick up Adelina’s bedsheets but soon realized they were stained with blood. She found out that Gerardo had killed her when she told him she was leaving him. Juana immediately wanted to flee the place but not before she assumed the identity of Adelina; Juana had discovered Adelina’s birth certificate. This was Juana’s definitive transformation for the rest of the story. These scenes are essential because it highlights the events that provoked an unnatural coming of age of a poor Mexican woman.

In this episode, the matriarchy of the Alvarez family, Penelope, along with her friend, Schneider, unexpectedly discover pornography on her son, Alex’s laptop. Penelope automatically assumed it was Schneider who visited the explicit website but after he rejected the notion, she then presumes it to be her son’s. Penelope reminisces her own sex talk with Abuelita (her mother), who did not properly explain, but instead told Penelope to protect her virginity, comparing it to a white handkerchief. This is an indication of her own coming of age. After a painstakingly sex talk with Alex, he is asked about the explicit site and he denied it. They all come to the conclusion that it was Elena. There’s a display of double standard from Abuelita (Grandma), an old lady with a traditional mindset, when she berates Penelope for Elena’s pornography. Abuelita believes that it’s normal for men to be outspoken about sex while women are meant to be modest about it, referencing the bible. In an attempt to have a sex talk with Elena, a paranoid Penelope rushes to Elena’s boyfriend’s house believing Elena might have sex with her boyfriend. Upon realizing her mistake, Penelope, then embarrassed herself and Elena, both rush home. Once home, Penelope and Elena have an intimate conversation leading to the sex talk. Penelope lets Elena know that she has discovered the explicit video and that if Elena is sexually active, she wants Elena to feel safe resorting to her because she did not have the same opportunity with Abuelita. Abuelita was too reserved about sex. The conversation quickly becomes emotional as Elena hesitantly admits to Penelope that she likes women, fearing rejection. With the emotional weight removed, both are happy that everything is cleared but the episode concludes with a subtle foreshadowing of Elena admitting her sexuality preference to Abuelita. This episode highlights Elena’s coming of age as she comes out to her mother – a milestone in Elena’s life.

In this episode, the show focuses on Alex, Penelope’s son. The beginning takes place at Alex’s baseball game with the Alvarez family and Schneider supporting him. The gang is seen supporting Alex by chanting his nickname, “Dale Papito dale” (You go, daddy, you go). Once home, the viewers see an irate Alex unpacking his baseball equipment with the rest singing and chanting out of joy. Reaching his breaking point, Alex yells at Penelope to be quiet and everyone is surprised. Alex goes to his room and Abuelita concludes his behavior to the turn or puberty – a sign of adulthood. The situation later worsens when Penelope receives a phone call from Alex’s school. He was in trouble. During his field trip, he punched another student from another school. Alex stated that the reason he punched the boy was because the boy told him to “Go back to Mexico” while Alex and his friend were talking in Spanish. Penelope cautioned him about his actions but was not aware that it was not Alex’s first experience with racism. Alex had previously experienced it while he was out. This display of racism towards a young Latino boy is significant as it points out a level of cultivation. Furthermore, the fact that Alex is subjected to mistreatment due to his complexion allows the audience to acknowledge a partial loss of innocence from Alex.

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