Slaughterhouse Five And The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao By Junot Diaz

Slaughterhouse Five And The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao By Junot Diaz

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Throughout this semester, we have primarily focused on literature that incorporates irreal elements alongside real elements. Two examples of this are “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut and “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Díaz. Both of these novels focus on realistic themes, such as war or romance troubles, but they both incorporate irreal elements as well, such as Billy Pilgrim’s Tralfamadorians or Oscar’s fukú. The irreal elements in “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” serve to emphasize the limitations of human understanding by incorporating supernatural events into otherwise realistic stories, using narrative structure and style as part of these irreal elements, and by reflecting on themselves as metafiction to create the sense that not everything can be explained rationally.
The inclusion of supernatural elements alongside more realistic themes in “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” are a main part of the novels and juxtapose the supernatural with the natural. In “Slaughterhouse-Five”, the author begins with “All this happened, more or less (1)”. This makes the reader expect a realistic war novel, but at the beginning of the second chapter, Vonnegut writes, “Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time (23)” and later on the same page: “He has seen his birth and death many times, he says, and pays random visits to all the events in between”. The sudden inclusion of supernatural elements with the more realistic war theme creates a situation in which not everything can be explained and contrasts the fantastic with the ordinary. “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” introduces the fukú within the first page: “Fukú americanus, or more colloquially, fukú – gen...


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... knows that they did not. The self-reflection of the fictional author creates the sense that the novel itself is self-aware and forces the reader to think about the nature of the story and how the irreal and real elements interact within it. The fukú and the mongoose are clearly irreal, but when tied together with real history and references to things that the reader can relate to, the boundaries between what is real and what is not become blurred.
“Slaughterhouse-Five” and “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” both use supernatural events alongside realistic events to create a controversy between what can be explained rationally and what cannot. They also use irreal elements within their narrative structures and styles to further this controversy, and they both reflect upon themselves to force the reader to consider what is real and what is not within the novels.

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