Summary: Part 2, Chapter 6

In Chapter 6, which covers the period 1992–1995, Yunior recounts the events of Oscar’s life following his graduation from Rutgers.

After he finished college, Oscar moved back home and started teaching at his old high school, Don Bosco Tech. Not much had changed at Don Bosco since he had graduated. Oscar watched as popular kids tortured the school’s underclass. He also noticed students laughing at him behind his back. He tried to establish a club for science fiction and fantasy fans, but no one showed up.

Oscar’s only friend at Don Bosco was a colleague named Nataly, an “alterna-latina” whose interest in Wicca reminded him of Jenni. Nataly had a boyfriend whom she’d met during her four-year stay in a mental institution. Oscar didn’t make any advances on her, but he did have strange sexual fantasies about her.

After a year, Nataly transferred to another school, and Oscar’s life became formulaic and uninteresting. His loneliness grew into depression, and once again, he harbored suicidal thoughts. But slowly he regained emotional stability. He started to exercise more, and he began to write an ambitious quartet of science-fiction fantasies. Occasionally during this period, he dreamed about the mongoose he’d seen the night he jumped from the bridge.

Three years into his job at Don Bosco, Oscar decided to join his family and spend the first part of the summer visiting La Inca in Santo Domingo. They flew down together in June. Oscar’s cousin Pedro Pablo drove them to La Inca’s new house in the Mirado Norte neighborhood from which she now oversaw the operation of six bakeries throughout Santo Domingo.

Oscar gradually fell into the rhythm of Dominican life, and he decided to stay for the whole summer. Lola left, and Oscar spent the next week devoted to his writing. Then, he met and fell for a woman named Ybón Pimentel.

Ybón was a “semi-retired” prostitute who lived two houses down from La Inca. Yunior describes her as “one of those golden mulatas that French-speaking Caribbeans call chabines.” Oscar first noticed her on one of the walks he took as a break from writing, and one day, she sat down at his table in a café and asked what he was reading. Another day, she invited him to her sparsely-furnished home, and by the end of the their long, wandering conversation, he was in love. Despite the objections of his family, who rejected Ybón based on her profession, Oscar courted her.

On their dates, Ybón frequently drank herself into a stupor, and Oscar had to drive her home. Not knowing his way around the city, he often called a reliable taxi driver named Clives to lead the way home. Ybón also started talking about her other boyfriend, “the Capitán,” more frequently. The Capitán was a cop, and though he only visited Ybón once or twice a month, he grew jealous upon hearing about Oscar and wanted to meet him.

The two men met a couple of weeks later. One night, Oscar was driving a passed-out Ybón home when a cop pulled them over. Ybón woke up when the car stopped, and just as the officer approached the car, she kissed Oscar. The cop was, of course, the Capitán. He pulled Oscar out of the car and punched him a couple of times before forcing him into another car driven by two armed henchmen. The men drove Oscar to a cane field. Just before they beat him horribly, Oscar felt overcome by a sense of déjà vu.

Clives had escorted Oscar and Ybón earlier in the evening, and, suspecting foul play after the cop pulled them over, he covertly followed the second car to the cane fields. He waited until the men left then rescued Oscar and brought him to the hospital. Oscar barely survived, and during his three-day period of unconsciousness, he dreamed of the golden-eyed mongoose.

Once he’d recovered enough to travel, Oscar’s mother and La Inca put him on a flight to New Jersey. Back home, he had nightmares of the cane field, and he implied to Yunior that the fukú curse had caused his misfortune. Even so, he remained hopelessly in love with Ybón.

Analysis: Part 2, Chapter 6

Oscar’s crush on Nataly highlights that he hadn’t learned much from his previous disappointments in love. Nataly was the first woman Oscar befriended after his desperate outburst at Jenni Muñoz. Curiously, Nataly bore a strong resemblance to Jenni. Not only was she Latina, but she also had an interest in the occult religion of Wicca, which recalls Jenni’s goth-punk aesthetic. When Oscar found Jenni sleeping with someone else, he took it hard. And as the reader knows from Yunior’s account of his adolescence, Oscar found it very difficult to let his crushes go. Therefore, the reader might understand Oscar’s interest in Nataly as a sign that he had not fully gotten over Jenni, his first “alterna-latina” love. Yet for all that Nataly resembled Jenni, the particular details of Oscar’s relationship with her also resembled his prior situation with Ana Obregón. Ana was dating someone else and only ever considered Oscar a friend, yet he fell hopelessly in love with her. Likewise, Nataly befriended Oscar while in a relationship with someone else. Although Oscar had learned enough from his experiences with Ana and Jenni not to let Nataly know about his feelings, the stage is set for history to repeat itself.

Yunior’s description of Ybón as a golden “chabine” subtly references Beli’s encounter with the golden-eyed mongoose. On the surface, Yunior’s word choice simply indicates that Ybón had a mixed-race heritage. In French-speaking parts of the Caribbean, the term chabine refers to a mixed-race person with light skin, light eyes, and African features. However, Yunior used the word once before, in Chapter 4. Shortly after her near fatal beating, a golden-eyed mongoose appeared to Beli and commanded her to get up and find her way out of the cane field. She struggled back to the highway where a passing truck stopped. One of the passengers lit a match in the dark to see her face, and the weak light revealed “a blunt-featured woman with the golden eyes of a chabine.” The description in Chapter 6 of Ybón as a golden chabine clearly recalls this earlier scene and Beli’s near-death experience in the cane field. As such, it serves as an ill omen for the present, implying that danger lies ahead for Oscar and perhaps Ybón as well.

Oscar’s reckless courtship of Ybón shows that even after several disasters in romance, he remained committed to the ideal of Dominican masculinity. Throughout the novel Oscar has struggled with his masculinity as well as his Dominican identity, often at the same time. In high school, as he gained weight and lost confidence, Oscar felt unable to live up to standards of male Dominican sexuality set by models like his uncle Rudolfo. In college, other students of color challenged his status as a Dominican, and he felt unable to keep up with his one Dominican male peer, Yunior. By the time he graduated from Rutgers and returned to a solitary, sedentary lifestyle, it appeared that Oscar had largely given up on love. But as Yunior recounts in Chapter 6, Oscar felt convinced that Ybón represented “the Higher Power’s last-ditch attempt to put him back on the proper path of Dominican male-itude.” Yunior’s assessment seems justified, given the reckless nature of Oscar’s pursuit of her. He went against his family’s recommendations, and he persisted in spite of Ybón’s alcoholism and her jealous boyfriend. Oscar saw Ybón as a chance to finally come of age as a Dominican male, and he was willing to sacrifice everything to achieve Dominican masculinity.

Oscar’s near-fatal attack reprises the terrible attack his mother suffered more than thirty years prior. Many of the details surrounding Beli’s attack repeat in Oscar’s story. For instance, both were attacked due to their romantic involvement with a person who had another lover prone to jealousy. Both received brutal beatings by two henchmen in a remote cane field. Both had mysterious encounters with a golden-eyed mongoose. And finally, both barely survived their ordeals and subsequently left the Dominican Republic for the United States. The uncanny repetition of so many details appears to confirm Yunior’s overall thesis that the curse established with Abelard’s “Fall” has persisted through the generations of his family. Furthermore, the sense of déjà vu Oscar felt when he arrived at the cane field suggests a kind of hereditary memory of Beli’s tragedy even though his mother never told him about her experience, and it happened prior to his birth. This strange form of recollection provides additional evidence that the fukú that drove Beli to near destruction now returned to afflict her son.