Bodega Dreams – Major Character Analysis

Ernesto Quinonez

Bodega Dreams

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Bodega Dreams – Major Character Analysis

William Irizarry / Willie Bodega

The title character of the book, Willie Bodega is a man who has reinvented himself once and wants to do so again. A childhood on the streets of Spanish Harlem leads him to the Young Lords, a political activist group that seeks to affect social change when the government is unwilling to do so. During his time with the Young Lords, the group grows increasingly violent and Bodega loses the affection of Veronica (later, Vera), who doesn’t believe that he will ever have the vision improve his situation. Later, he reinvents himself as Willie Bodega, a slumlord with a heart of gold. Although much of his money comes from drug sales and bookmaking, Bodega is trying to gain legitimacy through his company, the Harry Goldstein Real Estate Agency. He has figured out that the way to gain the loyalty and respect of el barrio—he simply has to do them favors. If someone needs a place to stay, Bodega will arrange it. If someone needs a break on rent, Bodega will provide that. And when someone (like the journalist Alberto Salazar, in the pockets of Bodega’s rival Aaron Fischman) crosses him, he’s not afraid to resort to murder. Bodega’s Achilles heel, however, is his great love for Vera. He’s thrilled to impress her with his wealth and influence, and is so blinded by love that he doesn’t see her for what she really is. Bodega’s idealism causes him to take his eye off the ball, and he becomes an easy target for Nazario to take down in his own quest for power. Unlike other leaders who have made big promises to el barrio and then turned their backs when they have achieved personal fame and fortune, Bodega honestly seemed to care about making the barrio a better place. In that way, Bodega’s dreams will live on past his death. 

Enrique / Sapo 

Sapo is always unapologetically himself. His name, deriving from his physical appearance, means “toad” in Spanish, but this unflattering descriptiondoes not keep Sapo from getting anything he wants. A product of the streets, he rises to…

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