Bodega Dreams – Symbols and Motifs

Ernesto Quinonez

Bodega Dreams

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Bodega Dreams – Symbols and Motifs


There are two scenes involving kites, one near the beginning and the other near the end of thenovel. In the beginning of the novel, Sapo and Chino are flying kites on the roof of a tenement building. Although this is an innocent happy childhood game, they have also made it competitive by attaching razors to their kite strings, so they can bring down kites being flown elsewhere in the city.

Symbolically, the kites represent Sapo and Chino’s freedom to fly above their situation and experience a freedom they don’t have in their everyday lives. At one point Chino expresses envy at this freedom, and Sapo is horrified. He tells Chino he can’t imagine why anyone would want to leave the city. Not long after this, Chino is accepted to a magnet high school for the arts outside el barrio and begins expanding his own horizons.

At the end of the story, on the day of Bodega’s funeral, Chino again finds Sapo on top of the tenement building, flying a kite. Their situations are very much changed, and they have both experienced the loss of a person they hold in high regard. For Chino, this is an end of whatever innocence he may have had. He’s about to go to the police precinct to turn in Nazario and Vera for their involvement in the murders. Sapo, on the other hand, is poised for greatness within el barrio. Bodega’s death has left big shoes to fill, and Sapo may well be the best person to fill them.


Fire is used in the novel in both a literal and symbolic way. Shortly after Chino and Blanca move into their new apartment (courtesy of the Harry Goldstein Real Estate Agency), the building burns down. Chino initially assumes that this is the work of Aaron Fischman but later learns that it is actually Nazario who set fire to the building in order to stir up more trouble between Fischman and Bodega and pave the way for his later actions.

More symbolically, there is a fire burning within the neighborhood, kindled by governmental promises, a lack of educational opportunities…

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