The Price of Salt

The Need for Parents, One Way or Another, in the Fiction of Diaz and Highsmith College

Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt both explore the romantic relationships of characters that lack parents. In The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Beli, the mother of the protagonist, is orphaned after her parents are murdered by the Trujillos. In The Price of Salt, Therese is abandoned by her mother after her father dies, spending most of her life in boarding school. Both characters find the lack of support and acceptance that usually comes from parents in their romantic partners: Beli with the Gangster, and Therese with Carol. Through their roles in relationships and their interactions with their lovers, Beli and Therese find themselves in their relationships and eventually are reborn through independence from their parent-like lovers. Diaz and Highsmith illustrate how one must be loved before they can love themselves, emphasizing the innate need for family and the promise of self-discovery through sexuality along the way.

In Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Oscar’s mother, Beli falls in love with the Gangster, the first person to make her feel safe. When Beli and the Gangster first start dating, he changes her life, her view of the world, most...

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