The title character and protagonist. He is a fat ghetto nerd and an outcast everywhere he goes. He spends the majority of the novel looking for a woman who will love him back. He is repeatedly described as un-Dominican due to his lack of masculinity and his extreme nerdiness.
Lola de León
Her full name is Dolores. Oscar’s sister, and Yunior's sometime girlfriend. She narrates one chapter of the book and one introduction from the first person perspective.
Hypatía Belicia Cabral-de León
Oscar’s and Lola's mother. Also known as Belicia or Beli. She is characterized by her toughness and her harsh parenting style. Belicia was orphaned as a child and was adopted by La Inca at the age of nine. She has numerous silences looming in her past.
The narrator remains anonymous until Chapter 4, when Yunior reveals his name. Yunior is his nickname and he never writes his full name. He is Oscar’s roommate and sometime friend in their junior year at Rutgers where they live in the dorm Demarest together. He is a playboy and an athlete. Yunior also becomes Lola’s boyfriend for a few years. He is a somewhat unreliable narrator who admits to adding elaborations to the story.
La Inca / Nena Inca
Belicia’s adoptive mother and Abelard’s cousin. La Inca acts as the grandmother to Lola and Oscar. She lives in Baní in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Lola and Oscar’s drug addicted uncle who lives with them in Belicia’s home in Paterson, New Jersey.
Oscar and Lola’s aunt. She sometimes helps Belicia keep house, especially once Belicia gets sick.
One of Oscar’s girlfriends when he is seven years old. She is very beautiful, and in the end, she dumps Oscar. She grows up to be a beautiful young woman but often dates older men who abuse her.
One of Oscar’s girlfriends when he is seven years old. She is Puerto Rican. Her mother is a drunk, and as a result, Olga sometimes smells like pee. Oscar likes her because she is agreeable. Later, she becomes huge and scary and is known for screaming NATAS (perhaps meaning tits, or Satan backwards) during class.
The kid Maritza dates as a way of dumping Oscar. He looks like Chaka from Land of the Lost.
Al and Miggs
Oscar’s only friends in high school. They are also nerds with genre interests, but they both consider Oscar to be a bigger nerd than them.
Oscar’s first love, a beautiful curvy girl, a gordita. He meets her at a SAT prep class in the fall of their senior year. They spend a lot of time together until Ana’s boyfriend Manny returns from the army.
Ana Obregón’s older boyfriend. He is known for being a drug addict and for beating Ana. Ana also tells Oscar about Manny’s “big cock.”
The boy Lola lives with when she runs away at 15. Aldo lives with his father in Wildwood, NJ. Lola loses her virginity to him.
Lola’s goth friend in high school. Karen helps Lola cut off all her hair when Lola decides to become a punk chick. Karen leaves New Jersey after she graduates from high school early and tells Lola that she never plans to return to Paterson.
Lola’s friend in Santo Domingo during the time Lola attends high school there and lives with La Inca.
Lola’s boyfriend in Santo Domingo. He later dies in a jaywalking accident, and Lola feels compelled to give his family the $2000 she was saving to run away.
Belicia’s childhood friend, the daughter of La Inca’s cleaning lady. She admires Belicia, and Belicia tells tall tales to Dorca of her life as a popular girl at El Redentor.
A boy in Belicia’s class that writes that he believes Trujillo killed Galíndez (a Spaniard who wrote a dissertation exposing Trujillo). After Mauricio writes this, he is never seen again, and neither is the teacher.
The most handsome boy at El Redentor. Belicia has a crush on him, but he does not notice her until she develops a womanly body. Jack is caught having sex with Belicia in he broom closet at school, and is forced to join the army.
Jose Then’s brother. One of the owners of the Chinese restaurant Palacio Peking that Belicia works at in Santo Domingo. Described as a melancholic gambler. Characterized by his broken use of language because he never mastered Spanish. He has many girlfriends who take advantage of him. He teaches Beli how to play dominoes.
Juan Then’s brother. One of the owners of the Chinese restaurant that Belicia works at in Santo Domingo. Quieter and more responsible than Juan. He lost his wife and children to a warlord in the 1930s and is still grieving. He teaches Beli how to do practical things, like drive a car.
One of the waitresses at Palacio Peking, described as a squat rice tub.
A waiter at the Palacio Peking, known as quiet and meticulous.
The one-legged, earless cook at the Palacio Peking. His only explanation for his deformity is “an accident.”
The Fiat dealer
One of Belicia’s suitors in Santo Domingo who sells used cars and who often begs Beli to let him touch her (she never lets him). When she tells him she is seeing the Gangster, he throws a whiskey bottle at her and misses. Beli uses it to hit him on the head and run.
One of Belicia’s suitors in Santo Domingo. He has been a student forever. He is a political dissident. As such, he is in danger of being caught and killed, and often uses this as a reason to try to convince Beli to sleep with him.
The waitress who replaces Lillian at Palacio Peking in Santo Domingo. She takes Beli shopping for matching dresses and the two go dancing together at El Hollywood.
Belicia’s second lover, and also her second heartbreak. She meets him at El Hollywood when she goes dancing there with Constantina. The Gangster is an older man who is involved in political assassinations. He treats Belicia to high-class restaurants and vacations, but is often gone for weeks at a time on business. Belicia’s first child is fathered by the Gangster. However, once pregnant Belicia finds out the Gangster is married to Trujillo’s sister. Belicia only sees the Gangster once after his wife has her beaten, and the magic has gone out of their relationship.
Trujillo’s sister/La Fea
The Gangster’s wife who orders the Elvises to beat Belicia because Belicia is pregnant with the Gangster’s child.
The Man with No Face
also referred to as the Faceless Man and the No Face Man among other references. Usually, his image is the harbinger of fukú. The narrator makes various references to faceless figures, and the image often appears in the characters’ dreams.
Elvis One and Elvis Two
The two men who kidnap Belicia and give her a near-fatal beating in a cane field. Belicia continues to see the two men in town after she recovers from the beating, but is never attacked by them again.
Also referred to as the Golden Mongoose. A vision that appears to Oscar and Belicia as a Mongoose with gold lion eyes. It is a fantasy character that acts as a sort of guardian angel.
Belicia’s third love and eventually her third heartbreak, although the narrator never describes their relationship in detail.
Yunior’s friend at Rutgers who often makes fun of Oscar.
Yunior’s off and on girlfriend at Rutgers.
A girl that Yunior sleeps with and who decides to publicly broadcast this information, thus ending Yunior’s relationship with his girlfriend Suriyan (for the time being).
Also known as La Jablesse. A Puerto Rican girl who lives in Oscar’s dorm, Demarest, at Rutgers. She wears black eye-makeup and lipstick and has large round breasts. She is known for dressing up as a dominatrix at Halloween. Oscar falls in love with her, and they spend a lot of time talking but never become physically intimate. Eventually Jenni finds a boyfriend and stops hanging out with Oscar.
Abelard Luis Cabral
Belicia’s father. He was a successful doctor in Santo Domingo during Trujillo’s dictatorship. Abelard was arrested and imprisoned by the regime, but the reason for the arrest was unclear. It could have been because he tried to protect his daughter Jacquelyn from Trujillo’s advances, because he spoke ill of Trujillo, or because he purportedly wrote a book on Trujillo’s supernatural powers. Abelard died in prison 14 years into his 18-year sentence.
Abelard’s wife and Belicia’s mother. She is a nurse and that is how she met Abelard. She dies in an accident (possibly a suicide) shortly after Belicia is born.
Abelard’s mistress. He proposed to her when they were young but she turned him down. When her husband died, she became his mistress. She has no children, and dies soon after Abelard is imprisoned.
Marcus Applegate Róman
Abelard’s closest friend. Abelard consults him a few times about his fears regarding Jacquelyn’s beauty and Trujillo’s rampant desire. Marcus’ only advice is that there is nothing he can do but to comply with the dictator’s wishes.
Abelard’s oldest daughter. She is beautiful and womanly, with large breasts. She is also the Golden Child, and is very intelligent and cheerful. Trujillo desires her presence at one of his events, but Abelard refuses to bring her for fear that she will be required to have sex with Trujillo. After Abelard’s arrest and imprisonment, Jacquelyn lives with her godparents in La Capital. In 1948 she is mysteriously found dead at the bottom of a pool three days after being accepted to medical school in France.
Abelard’s second daughter. After Abelard’s imprisonment and Socorro’s death, Astrid lives with relatives in San Juan de la Maguana. She is killed in 1951by a stray bullet while praying at church.
A teacher who works with Oscar at Don Bosco Tech. Oscar likes her but thinks she is not hot enough to date (not that he has that option). Nataly has a boyfriend named Stan the Can that she met during her 4-year stay at a mental hospital. Nataly introduces Oscar to new comic books. She later transfers to another school in Ridgewood and Oscar loses touch with her.
Oscar and Lola’s cousin in Santo Domingo.
Tío Carlos Moya
Oscar and Lola’s uncle in Santo Domingo.
The semiretired prostitute who lives next door to La Inca. She is 36 years old. Oscar falls in love with her and they become close despite the fact that Ybón has numerous boyfriends, one of whom is in La Polícia Nacional. Eventually Ybón and Oscar become physically intimate. Ybón has two sons named Strelling and Perfecto who live in Puerto Rico with their grandparents.
The evangelical taxista (taxi driver) trusted by Oscar’s family. He rescues Oscar after he is beaten in the cane field the first time, and he is the one who delivers Oscar to his family after he is murdered.
Ybón’s boyfriend, whose real name is never mentioned. He is a captain in the National Police force and is very possessive of Ybón. He dislikes Oscar because of Oscar’s love for Ybón, and in the end he has Oscar killed for that reason. He is never punished for the murder.
Solomon Grundy and Gorilla Grod
Yunior’s pseudonyms for Oscar’s assassins.
What Yunior calls the man Lola marries at the end of the book.
Lola’s daughter with Cuban Ruban. She wears three azabaches around her neck to protect her from the evil eye. Yunior hopes Isis will help break the curse by carrying on the story of the Cabral de Leóns.
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Yunior is awfully likeable, but he's not what we would consider a reliable or trustworthy narrator. Yunior's opinions and the way he tells the story are all wrapped up in the people around him, and his story often reflects their feelings rather...