Book Club Syllibi
Rachel, Marissa, Austin


Syllabus: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Book Club, Day 1
April 30, 2009
Book Club Members: Rachel, Marissa, Austin

Today’s Focus Question:
How does Diaz represent pride and shame, fear and love in Oscars conflicting desires?

Opening activity:
Read Lyrics to Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis and research about Compulsive Overeating disorders. Link back to Oscar and the focus question.

Club Discussion Questions:
1. How does Oscar being in love with Ana accentuate pride, shame, fear, and love? (pg. 47)
2. How does Oscars Binge eating represent his conflicting desires? (pg. 25)
3. How does Oscar represent all of the normal people in the world…you?
4. In what ways does Diaz represent fear of change?
5. How are Lola and Oscar similar in their actions? Different?
6. Does Oscars “betrayal” to Lola in the end bring them closer or tear them apart?(69)
7. Oscar is a very emotional male, what does this represent?
8. Lola and Oscar seem very close, how do you think their mom’s cancer has made this possible? Does their mom beating them draw them together?
9. Does their Mom love them or not? If she does how is that represented by conflict?
10. How are Lola and Oscar reflected in their mom?
11. How did the madre’s past influence how she is as a mother?


Closing activity: Research Dominican art and culture and talk about how this does or does not represent Oscar his family and the focus question.
http://www.escapeartist.com/dr2/dr2b.html
One good website!


Syllabus: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Book Club, Day 2
May 1, 2009

Book Club Members: Marissa, Rachel, & Austin

Today’s Focus Question: How have the many experiences dealing with Oscar and his families past shaped their unique personalities and what will ultimately fill their needs for fulfillment?


Opening Focus Activity (10-15 minutes):

Look up the lyrics of “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls. Decide which character specifically you think connects to the main theme of this song the most.


Club Discussion Questions (20-30 minutes):
  1. My favorite quote in the book is: “Know that in this world, there’s somebody who will always love you” (pg32) Relate this to the current reading in the novel.
  2. What genre would you consider the book up to this point?
  3. What is the biggest conflict and how is it resolved?
  4. How is Oscar’s way of trying to find love like how the typical person of the culture found love?
  5. Do you believe in fuku and do you think Oscar really does believe in fuku?
  6. Miramax has bought the movie rights for Díaz’s novel. If you were the producer of this film, what actors would you choose to play the various characters? How would you describe the personalities of Díaz’s characters to the actors so they come across authentically and as true to the author’s intent?
  7. How would the novel have been different if Díaz had stopped to provide English translations at every turn?
  8. We know Oscar is destined to die through the title of the novel, how do you think this will happen. Does he reveal this through the title to create suspense?


Closing Activity/Extension (5-10 minutes):

Visit
http://mogadalai.wordpress.com/2008/04/08/junot-diaz-wins-pulitzer/ and/or http://www.slate.com/id/2177644/ to see if these interviews give you a greater insight into the novel and why Diaz wrote it the way he did.

Syllabus: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Book Club, Day 1
May 4, 2009
Book Club Members: Rachel, Marissa, Austin
Guiding Question:
How is the pursuit of love shown in the experiences between Bella and the Gangster?

Opening activity:
Compare the story of Cinderella to the book. How does the relationship compare to that between Bella and the Gangster?

Questions:
How do Oscar, Lola, and Bella define happiness? How does each view compare with one another?
Why did the gangster maintain a relationship with Bella if he was married?
What made the gangster so appealing to Bella?
How did Bella’s childhood affect the mother she became? How about between Lola and Oscar?
Who “guided” Bella in the cane field after getting beaten? Was it herself, god, etc.?
Is Oscar’s family cursed by the fuku? Do they have any zafa as well?
How does La Inca feel towards Bella after the incident?
How much power did Bella have over her life during this part of the chapter?
How does Bella’s pursuit of love she can’t have compare to Gatsby?
Every character seems to undergo rapid changes, so how does change affect the characters in the novel?
Is the love between Bella and the gangster true love or is it just a crush? According to Junot, can true love exist?





Syllabus: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Book Club, Day4
May 6, 2009

Book Club Members: Rachel, Marissa, & Austin

Today’s Focus Question: How is love, fear, & trust shown or betrayed in this reading?

Opening Focus Activity (10-15 minutes):

Family Therapy have a session of family therapy with one person acting as the therapist & one as Beli & one as La Inca

Club Discussion Questions (20-30 minutes):

1. How does Beli grown through her resent struggles?
2. What does this say about love & fear? Trust?
3. How does Beli’s trust make her more vulnerable?
4. A study was done about happiest people and they are those who trust strangers the most. How does Beli compare?
5. What is Diaz saying about God, is it positive or negative?
6. How does La Inca ingluence the plot in love, fear, & trust?
7. Do you guys think that we have seen a more or less honest form of Beli?
8. What do you think about fuku? Does it provide fear or protection?
9. Why does Beli treat her children so badly if she wants children so bad?
10. What do you think Beli wants for her children?
11. Is she sad she didn’t become something more for her children to look up to?

Closing Activity/Extension (5-10 minutes):

Listen to the song Beautiful Disaster & Beautiful. Talk about how they show all of the emotions of love, fear & trust?



Syllabus: The Brief Wondrous life of Oscar Wao Book Club, Day 5
May 8, 2009

Book Club Members: Marissa , Rachel, & Austin

Today’s Focus Question: How do difficult experiences shape who the characters are in the book? Does overcoming obstacles strengthen them in the long run, or is everything just a “curse”?


Opening Focus Activity (10-15 minutes):

Story time! Does anyone have any trials or obstacles in their own lives that have impacted them greatly? Compare these to that of the hardships in the book. What kind of impact do struggles have on people’s lives?


Club Discussion Questions (20-30 minutes):
  1. Discuss how Beli’s disturbed past has shaped who she is today.
  2. My favorite quote in the book is: “Know that in this world, there’s somebody who will always love you” (pg32) Relate this to the current reading in the novel.
  3. Why do you think Abelard, such an innocent man only trying to do what’s best for his family, was the one who suffered the most?
  4. Do you think all of Beli’s torture has overall mad her stronger? Was it a blessing? A curse?
  5. Abelard having been in jail for 14 years, do you think he was the one who suffered the most? Who did?
  6. Compare Beli being sold to that of Negro slaves? Compare her feelings and/or past with that of slaves.
  7. One of the quotes in this section was,” the only way out is in.” Expand on this quote and apply it directly to the characters lives.
  8. What genre would you consider the book up to this point?
  9. What is the biggest conflict and how is it resolved?

Closing Activity/Extension (5-10 minutes):

Write your own literary criticism of the book thus far. Rate it on a scale of 1-10 and defend your opinion.


Syllabus: The Brief Wondrous life of Oscar Wao Book Club, Day
May 8, 2009

Book Club Members: Marissa, Rachel, & Austin

Guiding Question: What is Junot Diaz’s purpose of writing the book?
Opening activity: Research anything that is a repeated theme or a historical piece of information that will help in discuss the novel in greater detail. The Trujillo regime? The Mongoose? Cane fields?
Questions:
What are some common themes throughout the book? What could they signify?
On page 277, Oscar lists mind boggling poverty as something he’s gotten used to…three times. What significance does that hold?
Why does Diaz have Oscar undergo the same trial as Bella did in the cane field?
Did Oscar die happy?
How is fuku portrayed in the novel? Particularly in this reading, fuku starts to personify?
Is zafa portrayed in the novel? Does it ever reach Oscar?
How was the relationship between Oscar and Ybon sustained?
How close is the relationship between Oscar and Bella?
What message was Diaz trying to give through the novel?