Bodega Dreams – Essay Topics

Ernesto Quinonez

Bodega Dreams

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Bodega Dreams – Essay Topics

  1. A “character,” by definition, has the moral and mental qualities of an individual. In what ways can Spanish Harlem itself be considered a character in Bodega Dreams?
  1. What is the dual meaning of the title Bodega Dreams? In what way are Willie Bodega’s dreams the same as those of el barrio? In what ways are they different?
  1. Throughout the story, Chino seems pulled in two directions—toward hard work and a slow but steady path to success with Blanca and toward Willie Bodega’s grander, more corrupt plans. At the end of the story, which path does Chino seem to have chosen and why?
  1. Bodega and Nazario have accepted that some evil must occur for good to appear, and have therefore justified drug dealing, bookmaking and even murder. Nazario often stresses that this is simply the way the world works, that history is a collection of such moral compromises. For his part, Bodega is convinced the good will far outweigh the bad. To what extent do you agree with these ideas? Is “evil” needed in order to make way for the “good”?
  1. Chino and Blanca have very different views on religion and the role of the church in daily life. Are these differences ultimately irreconcilable? Were their troubles inevitable before Chino’s involvement with Willie Bodega?
  1. Why does Chino decide to go to the police with what he knows about Nazario and Vera, without also turning in Sapo? Is he primarily concerned with self-preservation or with avenging Bodega’s death?
  1. In the short time they knew each other, Bodega made a powerful impression on Chino. His final words to Bodega are a tribute: that Bodega is worth all the souls in hell. How might Chino carry out some of Bodega’s dreams in the future?
  1. How is this novel as much about honoring the past as it is about constant reinvention in the future?
  1. In what ways has Chino changed over the course of the novel? What does he learn?
  1. In many ways, the Spanish Harlem presented in this novel has its own moral code based on loyalty and respect, ideas that don’t always…
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