Beli quickly found herself exiled beyond the bonewalls of the macroverse itself, flung there by the Ritual of Chüd. She wasn’t even lucky enough to be demoted into that lamentable subset—those mega-losers that even the losers pick on. She was beyond that, in Sycorax territory.

This quotation appears in Chapter 3 as Yunior describes the challenges Beli faced during her school years. After La Inca rescued Beli from child slavery, she wanted to give her cousin’s daughter an education worthy of her respectable family origins. For this reason, she enrolled Beli in the Colegio El Redentor, a school that generally catered to the children of Baní’s wealthier classes. Beli stood out amongst the pupils at El Redentor for a number of reasons. As an orphan who commuted to the campus from a working-class neighborhood, she did not share the lofty social status of her peers. Her dark skin also marked her as inferior within the typical Dominican racial hierarchy. But perhaps more than any other characteristic, Beli exhibited a degree of defensiveness and aggression that turned others against her. This quotation registers the severity of Beli’s outcast status among her peers at El Redentor, a status that would also plague her son, Oscar, some twenty-five years later.

In addition to underscoring Beli’s troubles at school, the quotation offers a good example of Yunior’s wide range of literary references. In order to convey the seriousness of Beli’s outcast status, Yunior draws on two specific references, neither of which he fully explains to the reader. The first reference is to something called “the Ritual of Chüd.” This reference alludes to a horror-fantasy novel by Stephen King called IT. That novel’s first part tells the story of a group of friends who face down a murderous cosmic force known only as “It.” In order to banish It to a place called “the Macroverse,” the friends engaged in a battle of wills called the Ritual of Chüd. The second reference alludes to the witch Sycorax from William Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest. Sycorax was a witch who became stranded on a remote island with her son, Caliban, after being exiled from her home in Algiers. Despite the significant difference between the two types of reference, both of Yunior’s allusions have a similar effect. That is, they explain the extreme nature of Beli’s outcast status at El Redentor.