Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Presence of the Golden Mongoose

Throughout The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, there is a recurring image of a golden mongoose. What exactly the mongoose represents is something to ponder.

The first appearance of the mongoose comes when Beli is nearly beaten to death by Trujillo’s goons. As Beli is “flitting in and out of life,” a mongoose with “golden lion eyes” appears at her side and tells her “ ‘You have to rise now or you’ll never have the son or daughter’ ” (Diaz 149). The physical appearance and ability to communicate with Beli obviously suggest the mongoose is some type supernatural being. The timing of its appearance coinciding with the extreme prayer gathering held by La Inca indicates that the mongoose is not a bad omen, (like the man with no face) but rather a protective spirit. Furthermore, the delivery of information about Beli’s future children is crucial to her survival. “Each time [Beli] thought she would fall she concentrated on the faces of her promised future- her promised children- and from that obtained the strength she needed” (Diaz 150). At a time when all hope seemed lost, the mongoose appeared in order to provide hope and help Beli survive. The Mongooses’ next appearance has a similar purpose.

When Oscar is on the New Brunswick train bridge contemplating suicide, the mongoose appears next to him. Oscar recalls the mongoose as a “very placid, very beautiful” creature with “Gold-limned eyes that reached through you, not so much in judgment or reproach but for something far scarier” (Diaz 190). Again, we see the mongoose has a bright physical appearance with gold also emphasized. Although Oscar still chooses to jump off the bridge, his survival is nothing short of a miracle. Thus, it seems the mongoose is still a figure that protects those who encounter it.

Due to the superstitious nature of the Dominican Republic’s culture, the mongoose could be a symbol of Zafa, or good luck. The “golden” physical appearance of the mongoose that is compared to a lion characterizes it as a symbol of something powerful and protective. Considering the circumstances that both Beli and Oscar faced when they encountered the mongoose, it is clear that without some type of divine intervention or stroke of good luck, they both would’ve ended up dead.

No comments:

Post a Comment