THE DARK AGE
Oscar moves back home after he graduates and gets a job as a teacher at his old high school, Don Bosco Tech. The students still make fun of him for being nerdy and fat. He meets another teacher named Nataly, and they become friends. Oscar fantasizes about Nataly even though he thinks she is not hot enough to date. At the end of the year, she is transferred to a different school and they lose touch.
Oscar does not see much of Al and Miggs, or Maritza or Olga. He believes he is a permanent bachelor. His mother is the same as she always was, working a lot, and his tío Rudolfo is still addicted to drugs. Oscar is in unhappy and depressed—the narrator refers to Oscar’s state as The Darkness. Oscar sometimes swears at his mother and punishes his students for no reason. Afterward he feels guilty and apologizes to his mother. Oscar sometimes goes on long drives and visits Lola ad Yunior in Washington Heights. One day Oscar realizes the nerds at the Game Room are no longer into role-playing but are instead playing with Magic cards. Oscars tries them but has no investment in them.
OSCAR TAKES A VACATION
After three years of teaching at Don Bosco, Oscar accompanies Lola, his mother and his tío to Santo Domingo to visit La Inca. At this point Oscar had decided to stick to a diet and to walking, and was losing weight. The summer is the time for diaspora to return to their homeland, so Oscars decides to go for a change.
THE CONDENSED NOTEBOOK OF A RETURN TO NATIVELAND
The de Leóns fly to Santo Domingo in June. When they land, everyone claps, which startles Oscar. La Inca now lives in La Capital in Mirador Norte. A cousin comes and picks them up. When they arrive at La Inca’s home Beli, Lola and La Inca have a tearful reunion. A clueless Oscar helps his cousin with the luggage. Oscar had forgotten how much he loved about being in Santo Domingo—especially how beautiful the women were. He calls it Heaven, and his cousin disagrees, instead calling it un maldito infierno (damn hell).
EVIDENCE OF A BROTHER'S PAST
In the pictures, Yunior notes that Oscar looks like he’s trying—he’s smiling and he is not wearing his usual “fatguy” coat.
OSCAR GOES NATIVE
Yunior details Oscar’s acclimation to the country—his realization that he cannot dance, the poverty (Yunior mentions this repeatedly), the people, the food, the stories told by his mother, Lola’s history of living with La Inca, and more. Oscar decides that instead of going home with Lola he is going to stay there with his mother for another month. After Lola leaves, Oscar falls in love with a semiretired puta (whore), Ybón Pimentel.
Ybón lives near La Inca, and Oscar watches her from afar at first. One day she talks to him while he is a reading a book, and he is shocked. She is older than he is, but he still finds her very attractive. One day he approaches her at her gate and makes small talk, and she senses his desperation and invites him in for a drink. Oscar is surprised at how little furniture she has in her house—with the bed being the main piece on which they sit. Ybón gets drunk and talks to Oscar about her life as a whore in Amsterdam. When Oscar returns from her house, both La Inca and Beli are angry with him for associating with a puta, and advise him to avoid her, but he does not want to take their advice.
Oscar tries to play it cool. Later the next day he goes to her house, but there is a Jeep parked outside next to her Pathfinder, and it has a Policía Nacional license plate. When Oscar sees her again a few days later, she invites him in lovingly.
A NOTE FROM YOUR AUTHOR
Yunior notes that he does not think that Ybón is a typical prostitute because she is not underage and drug addicted, and that maybe he should have made Oscar’s girl a more typical whore. However, Yunior points out that if he did that he would be lying, and this is supposed to be a true account.
THE GIRL FROM SABANA IGLESIA
In the pictures from when Oscar is there, Ybón looks young even though she is thirty-six. When Oscar goes over to her house for the third time, she shows him pictures of her when she is a teenager. Oscar became lovesick, stopped writing, and visited Ybón at her house every day. They began to do everything together and spent a lot of time talking. Ybón tells Oscar about her two sons, about some abortions she had, about her boyfriend the Dominican Police Officer and some of her other foreign boyfriends. Oscar tells her about drinking with Indians at a reservation in college, and about his sister Lola and his love for her. They did not talk about how much time they spent together, and once Oscar suggested they get married but Ybón said she’d be a terrible wife. They would go out drinking and Oscar would have to drive home, and Ybón would put her head in his lap and talk.
LA INCA SPEAKS
La Inca inserts that Oscar actually met Ybón at a whorehouse that his cousins took him to.
YBÓN, AS RECORDED BY OSCAR
Ybón states that she did not want to come back to Santo Domingo, especially after having been out, but a person can get used to anything.
WHAT NEVER CHANGES
Oscar and Ybón are not physically intimate even though that is what Oscars dreams of.
OSCAR AT THE RUBICON
In the beginning of August Ybón mentions that her boyfriend, the Dominican cop, wants to meet Oscar. Ybón also says she thinks they should spend less time together. Oscar does not heed her warning; Yunior claims that any other man would have run.
Oscar realizes that he is so in love with Ybón that he has again reached the point where bad things could happen. Oscar continues to spend time with Ybón and one night sees her naked when she is very drunk.
Two days later Oscar’s tío points out that someone shot at their house. Oscar still does not heed the warning and heads to Ybón’s.
OSCAR GETS BEAT
On the same day that Oscar gets his first kiss, he also meets the capitán (Ybón’s boyfriend). They are driving home following Clives, the family’s trusted taxi driver. Ybón is passed out with her head in his lap. The cops ask Oscar to pull over. At that moment, Ybón wakes up, requests a kiss from Oscar, jumps into his lap and kisses him. At the same time, the policemen shine their lights in, accompanied by Ybón’s boyfriend. They pull him out of the car, and Ybón passes out again. The narrator gives a brief history of the boyfriend, who had worked for Balaguer.
Oscar tells the officer he did not do anything, and that he is an American citizen. He also tells Ybón’s boyfriend that she said he was her ex. The capitán punches him in the face, drags Ybón out of the car, and takes her with him. The other two officers (Gorilla Grod and Solomon Grundy) take Oscar to a cane field and beat him brutally. Oscar is sure a third faceless man joins them.
CLIVES TO THE RESCUE
Clives saw Oscar get pulled over, so he follows the police to the field where Oscar was and finds him after Oscar was beaten. He has to enlist the help of some Haitian workers to carry Oscar out of the field.
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE CARIBBEAN KIND
Oscar dreams that the Mongoose (from earlier chapters) asked him if he wanted more or less. Oscar’s first response was less, but then he thought of his family—especially his sister, mother and Nena Inca. So he asked instead for more. The narrator puts three blank lines to replace the words the Mongoose says before it goes back into the darkness.
DEAD OR ALIVE
Beli asks if he is alive, and he is. La Inca grabs her hand to pray. They do not note any similarities between past and present.
BRIEFING FOR A DESCENT INTO HELL
Oscar is unconscious for three days. He later remembers that the dream he had right before he regained consciousness was of an old man in a mask holding up a blank book.
Beli books their flight out of Santo Domingo as soon as the doctor gave the go ahead. Oscar does not want to leave because he loves Ybón, which makes Beli very angry. Oscar is still in pain from the beating. He realizes that the family curse may actually be true. He says Fukú out loud, but it comes out as Fuck You. Ybón visits and tells Oscar she is going to marry the capitán, who has obviously beaten her. Oscar flies home, and Lola is very upset to see how awful he looks. Yunior is surprised as well, but Oscar is happy to tell him that he kissed a girl.
Oscar heals at home in New Jersey. He knew he loved Ybón. He dreamt of the cane fields and that his sister and mother were getting beat too and he runs—he wakes up screaming. He has the dream again six weeks later, and this time he forces himself to listen.
Oscar is back where he left off before he left for college, still an outsider and a nerd at Don Bosco Tech—symbolic of his apparent lack of growth, and of the continued search for the place where he belongs. Not surprisingly, Oscar finds nothing new when he goes back. The narrator’s theory on why Oscar is stuck and in an awful depression is that it is part of the fukú.
The title of the chapter, Land of the Lost, is a reference to a TV show of the same name. In the show, a family is trapped in an alternate universe with dinosaurs, primitive people, and large lizards. Like the characters of the TV show, Oscar seems to be trapped in the wrong—a universe where Oscar will always be a sad, fat, virgin loser. Where then, is the universe in which Oscar belongs? In an attempt to find it, Oscar goes to Santo Domingo. However, it seems he does not belong there either, because he is beaten and his mother urges him to leave.
Oscar’s relationship with Ybón is similar to the relationships he had with Ana and with Jenni. As foreshadowed, his reckless in love attitude returns and he puts himself in the grave danger. Yunior assures the reader that Dominican cops are not to be messed with, but either Oscar does not know this or he does not care. Even when danger literally knocks on his front door in the form of a bullet, Oscar chooses not to heed the warning. Love cannot happen without violence.
Oscar’s grandmother and mother warn him against Ybón because she is a “puta” who earned money by selling her body. Although Belicia was never a whore, her disapproval of Ybón is an interesting paradox, given that the source of Belicia’s power throughout the novel has been her large breasts and her sex appeal. Although Belicia never used that appeal to get money, she did use it to try to manipulate men to do what she pleased.
Yunior’s assertion of the reality of the Ybón’s character reminds the reader that Yunior’s narration is at times, unreliable. In Chapter 3 Yunior writes a footnote telling the reader he made up the location (and perhaps the existence of) the vacation Beli took with the Gangster. Here Yunior reports that he wishes he could have given a more realistic depiction of a puta, but that Ybón was the person that Oscar fell in love with, and Yunior could not change that fact. Thus, Yunior’s creative license seems only to extend so far.
Oscar experiences two passages into Dominican manhood on the same night: his first kiss and the first time he gets beaten. These events are part of the build up toward the climax of the story, which is the inevitable death of Oscar foreshadowed by the title of the book. In addition, the repetition of history is very apparent in Oscar’s beating and its parallel to Beli’s. The theme of silence prevails where there should be recognition from La Inca and Beli of the similarity.
This chapter repeats some of the themes and motifs that have appeared in earlier chapters. Again, the faceless man appears, this time at the Oscar’s beating in the cane field, and indicating that the beating is part of the fukú. The Mongoose also appears again, this time in Oscar’s dream. As Oscar’s personal guardian angel, or perhaps as a harbinger of zafa, the Mongoose offers “more or less” to Oscar. Less, it seems, would mean death, and more would mean that Oscar would continue with his fulfillment of the curse. Oscar chooses more, and then the Mongoose says something important to him, but there are blanks where words should be. The blanks are a structural indication of páginas en blanco. The páginas en blanco also appear in Oscar’s dream of the blank book held by a faceless man. The faceless man, as an embodiment of the fukú, may be encouraging Oscar to fill the pages, or showing him that the fukú lives on due to the fact that no has filled the blank pages with history yet.