Puerto Rican Culture

Asynchronous Assignment on Bodega Dreams (Pages 128-157; Book II Rounds 5-7)

In rounds five to seven from the second book of Bodega Dreams, Ernesto Quiñonez pays attention to Nancy and Julio’s marital problems, to the centrality of Christianity to many in the Puerto Rican and Latinx community, and to the imminence of war between underground bosses Aaron Fischman from the Lower East Side (Loisaida) and Willie Bodega from East Harlem (El barrio).



In the comment section down below, write a (200-word minimum) response based on ONE of the following prompts (due on 5/3 before the class):


How the matter of women’s agency and social mobility within Puerto Rican and Latinx societies are integrated into the representation of the pentecostal church? How Nancy’s (Blanca’s) points of view clash with Julio’s (Chino’s)? How do you interpret Julio’s decision of attending church? What he discovers while there?


What Chino finds out regarding Salazar while riding with Sapo? How Sapo takes the opportunity to criticize Chino’s colorism and complexes with Latinas?


Recapitulate on the criminal case as of this point in the plot. What are the connections between the fire at Bodega’s building and Nazario and Chino’s visit to Mr. Cavalleri? How bosses Bodega and Fischman are implicated?


Respectfully interact with ONE of your classmates’ responses. Do you agree with their points and interpretations? Do you disagree? What other observations about pages 128-157 (Book II Rounds 5-7) from Bodega Dreams do you want to bring into the discussion?

16 thoughts on “Asynchronous Assignment on Bodega Dreams (Pages 128-157; Book II Rounds 5-7)”

  1. Option one
    In the novel, the Pentecostal church was seen as something unnecessary and unbelievable. This was mostly in Chino’s perspective. I guess we can relate this to women’s agency and social mobility. They were very limited. Their rights were limited, their lives were limited, and they were a topic of discussion that a lot of people refused to put effort into. Blanca was very religious and very church oriented. She attended church sessions, knew a lot about the Bible, and always related each situation and topic to God. On the opposite hand, Chino was not religious at all. He viewed these church sessions as ridiculous and forceful. For almost each of Julio’s and Nancy’s arguments, Nancy would bring up God and Julio would get angry and tell her that it was not a bible study or a lecture/ spiritual guide to God. I viewed Julio’s attendance to the church as an act of true love. He did it for Blanca because he loved her and knew it would make her happy. I would assume many other people wouldn’t have even thought about going. During the session, Julio experienced the reactions, feelings and actions of people when they listened to the pastor and the revelations he spoke. In this section of the novel, I deeply related to Julio. I always viewed church and the lectures/stories that the priest spoke as corny and exaggerated. I also related with how he felt that the Pentecostal church members were sometimes forceful because they would consistently try to persuade you and teach you about God without have a choice or opinion.

    1. I agree with Emely on the misogynistic and restricting qualities of the church concerning women. However, towards the Latino community as a whole, the church was a place of refuge in the destructive system of America. Many became religious to retain some idea of hope and faith in their lives. When everything went wrong, the only thing constant was the presence of God and the church community. Emely also analyzes the dynamics of Chino and Blancas relationship, where a lot of the time, God is Blanca’s crutch to lean on as a moral or ethical compass. On the other hand, Chino is anti-church and only sees religion as a distraction and cult-like guide to life. Plus, he loathes most of the people who go to church since they are so judgmental, gossip-friendly, and unrealistic about life. However, Julio does attend church with Blanca out of love, and tries to meet her in the middle in respecting her space in the church. The forceful nature of church executives to accept the faith and be all submissive to god are something I’ve had to endure as well, since my mom made me attend church school all my life. I do feel religion is a restriction on one’s spiritual reality, but it can bring a lot of people peace and structure to their lives.

  2. Option 1

    Blanca is known as the Pentecostal girl. She’s very religious and described as angelic. She goes to church and walks around with her bible. All men loved her. Chino doesn’t care much about church. To be honest, in my perspective, I thought he didn’t believe in god or all the preaching happening at the church. Even when Chino and Blanca would argue, Blanca tend to mention god or some verse from the bible. Chino gets upset and believes she’s being ridiculous. This is related to social mobility and women’s agency due to the fact Blanca, is the typical Latin church girl. She participates frequently and is a full believer in god. She tries to connive Chino to join the church. but he is the opposite. When Chino went to church, he really showed how much he loved Blanco. Between Sapo and Chino, Chino loves women unlike Sapo who is disgusted and careful around them. However, as much of Chino loves Blanco, it didn’t change the fact that he believed the whole concept of church/ preaches were “dumb”.

    1. Hi Kelly,

      I agree with your post and your observations, mostly relating to the views of church that Blanca had and the opposing views that Chino had. They had very conflicting views on the church, and if they should live in accordance to the Bible. I would also like to add that Chino felt as though going to church made you “powerless” in a sense, and some kind of follower. This is also partly due to the fact that Blanca is a woman, therefore the church makes her seem “lesser than” a man, because of his belief that the church could be sexist. I also agree that by going to church Chino showed how much he truly loved her, however I do think his reaction to the churches teachings was in a way disrespectful towards her. She just was doing what she thought would help him, and he wouldn’t really give it a chance. He was there physically, but mentally was elsewhere so he was better off not even going. It appears as though they will never be on the same page because as much as she will continue to try to “change him” and make him understand, but ultimately he is too stubborn and set in his ways.

  3. Chino and Blanca are in a constant clash because Blanca lives by the code of the bible and Chino, by the code of the streets. He uses the gender roles in the bible to tempt Blanca into questioning her faith when he says, “I read that entire Bible and rarely did any of the men tell their wives what they were going to do, they just went and did it…I know that’s wrong…I know I should tell you things” (131).

    Here he is insinuating that the gender conformities established within Pentecostal customs are an advantage for the men and a disservice to the women. By pulling this gender card, Chino has hopes of shedding light on the contradictions of Blanca’s biblical beliefs. However, he does this in an arrogant way with an aim at justifying his own ethically challenging street motives. His attendance in church was to support Blanca and win her good graces but while he is there, he is silently validating his reasons of doubt in her Pentecostal beliefs. He listens to the young and anointed pastor, the “Lord’s stud”, with a judging ear as he watches the congregation become hypnotized by the blessed master of ceremony.

    He overhears one teenage attendee telling pastor Roberto, “that was beautiful. As if Paradise as there in front of me” (140), this is proof of success in the way the parents groomed the young Pastor to speak with an impact of influence with a strong magnetic pull. Chino described young Roberto as “impressive and very convincing” (142).

    Chino’s attendance at the church service did not help him discover anything, instead it helped validate his beliefs about the contradictions of religious followers who rendering as powerless and the preachers who preside powerfully over them.

    1. I completely agree with Christine’s response. Most of women’s expectations in the Latinx community comes from religion. However, it’s interesting to see that clash in beliefs between Chino and Blanca. Blanca is more conservative and religious, while Chino believes that religion is misogynistic. Chino only goes to church to validate his own beliefs against religion and doesn’t believe that Blanca’s religious beliefs are valid.

  4. Option Four
    In Bodega’s Dream you can see that there are different views on religion between the characters Blanca and Chino. Chino and Blanca are both two different people who have two different uprisings in the sense that Chino was a person who had earned the nickname he did by fighting and was apart of the street life. Unlike Chino, Blanca was the complete opposite. She was a person who had goals and dreams and who devoted herself to church. Knowing that Chino was someone from the streets his views on Church are completely different from Blanca. I want to interact with Christine post with this topic because she had some very interesting ideas based on the reading. With the quote that she incorporated on page 131 based on Chino views after reading the believe. I completely agree with what she wrote. I believe that Chino thinks that the Bible is emphasizing that men are constantly making decisions without them consulting their wife. Additionally, I would like to add how he believes or felt like Blanca’s church was doing a disservice to women like Christine mention in the sense that women don’t have much purpose besides getting pregnant and praising men. However, even after attending church it just seems as if Chino and Blanca will have these different views on religion.

  5. Option 1
    In Bodega Dreams, we are able to see the ways in which women are not able to practice agency or move up due to how the church views the place of a woman. We learn early on that Blanca is deeply invested in her church and in religion while Chino is not, and because of this, after getting married, Blanca lost certain privileges at church. This loss of privileges is just one of many ways Quinones shows readers that women are seen as less than in the Pentecostal Church, in addition to how this seeps into Latinx culture when viewing women outside of church as well. During an argument with Blanca, Chino brings up various points discussing how sexist the church can truly be, and he states “The women are treated as if they were just there to glorify their husbands, their children, and their pastor” (Quinones 130). He further explains how in the bible, men did things without any regard to their wives or their opinions. Chino also asks why her privilege of playing in front of the congregation was taken away due to being married to someone who wasn’t fully committed, rather than looking at Blanca and her own merits. Blanca’s views clash with Chino’s because she heavily believes in her religion, and believes the actions taken upon her make sense. Yet what Chino is trying to explain is that it is difficult to understand how she wants to be heard and seen as an equal, yet allows for the Church to treat her as less than. This can still be seen today, as many Latinas, especially from older generations, are very headstrong and independent, yet also serve the “housewife” role and make it a priority to serve their husbands. It is interesting to see the ways in which a woman can be working towards receiving more respect by becoming financially stable on their, going to school, and voicing their opinions, yet there are still many ideologies that are ingrained in our culture that do not allow them to be seen as equal in a mans, or in the churches, eyes.

  6. Blanca and Chino are polar opposites when it comes to their perspectives of the church. Blanca as we know has always been very devote, even being described as angelic, because her strict belief it constantly sways her decisions on life and how she handles anything. However Chino is not by any means devote, rather he does not care nor show much respect for God and the church system; he is often questioning and belittling its need. This representation pushes the narrative that Chino is different and a stray from what he should be, especially as a man who is seen as someone who needs to provide, Chino is also proud of his perspective. Blanca being so strict is more of the leading example, so for Chino to have gone to church I do see it as more a devotion to her, reminding readers that he does care despite all the bad he does. In a church system though it is all about forgiveness and being able to look beyond the bad. That is what Blanca does for Chino, in going to church he had to ability to see why she is the she is, yet Chino went and continued to judge rather than truly listen. He is head strong and only continues to discover flaws in what is supposed to be a perfect system.

  7. OPTION 3
    Nazario and Chino make their visit to Mr. Cavalleri because they are seeking his permission to retaliate against Fischman who they believe started the fire that destroyed the apartment complex. They are acting on behalf of Bodega who had Salazar, an undercover journalist, killed. Mr. Cavalleri notes that he does not care if they do this, because he has cut ties from Fischman years prior. He however also says that he respects Bodega for seeking permission and playing by the rules instead of acting out against them. The plot of this arc centers on this conflict, as Salazar was an associate of Fischman whom the characters believed had committed this crime as an act of revenge. Bodega and Fischman are implicated because of their supposed connection to two different crimes, one being the murder of Albert Salazar, and the arson of Bodega’s apartment. Chino’s involvement is another issue, as he willingly allows himself to become entangled with this business in fear that Sapo would be outed as Salazar’s murderer. He believes that Sapo is innocent saying how despite having a bite mark on his shoulder, Sapo typically did this in a majority of their previous conflicts. Sapo upholds his innocence because he never killed anyone despite having left his print on many people before, saying how it would be a mere coincidence that this occurred.

  8. Option 2
    While riding with Sapo Chino learned that despite the evident bite mark, Sapo was not responsible for taking Salazar’s life. Because of the code of the streets, Sapo did not reveal who the murderer was, but Chino had an idea, and he knew that he too could suffer implications considering his best friends “guilt by association” as stated on page 151. Sapo admitting that he was present at the time of the murder and Chino’s manners of interrogation makes Sapo warn his childhood friend about his newfound access to sensitive information. On page 152 he says, “You know Chino…you sittin’ on a bunch of info. Thass not a good chair to be sittin’ on”. This is a warning from Sapo for Chino to reconsider just how deep he gets himself involved with Bodega’s ways of achieving his dreams. The two friends get into the conversation about colorism when Sapo mentions his preference for Latina women over white ones. On page 153 Sapo teases Chino about having a preference to white girls and colorism is implied when he says that Blanca is a “white Spanish”, and that Chino has always had complexes that have made him “not like our girls”. This criticizes Chino’s preference towards Spanish women who are only white passing like Blanca.

  9. Chino finds out that Sapo did not kill Salazar, or at least at this point, he found out Sapo denied killing him. Sapo also told Chino “You know, I never thought of it but like you sittin; on a bunch of info (…) If I was you I’d move my ass and sit somewhere else,” leading Chino to stop asking about the topic.

    After Sapo was talking about his sexual experience and the nuances between white women and Latina women during sex, he confronts Chino about his colorism regarding Latin women. After Chino sarcastically says “spoken like a true existentialist”, he rebuttals by calling out Chino’s love for white women. At first, Chino jumped to the defense that Sapo was accusing him of not liking Latin and then asked if Sapo had anything against his “skin preference”. The main points of this section, for me, were Sapo saying “All I’m sayin’ is, if Blanca weren’t white you woulda nevah married her” (pg. 154) and “face it Chino, you got plexes. You got plexes with your kind in bed” (pg. 154). To both statements, Chino did not find a rebuttal explaining himself. I think the dynamic here was interesting because, Chino was patronizing Sapo for his initial comments and then once Sapo showed his awareness about Chino and his colorism, he didn’t have much to say. This also brings back the point of the nicknames “Blanca” and “Negra” and how the two gained these said nicknames based on their characteristics, demeanors and social factors.

  10. Option One

    The Idea of the Pentecostal church and its effect on Chino and Blanca’s marital relationship shows the relationship that Latinos in general have with church. During Blanca and Chino’s arguments the idea of the church and how Chino refers the bible as the book goes to show that Chino doesn’t care for it and knows that it means a lot to Blanca. Chino also mentions the sexism and the hypocrisy of the church and how the only reason why she likes going to the church so much is because they accept her and make her feel comfortable something that the outside world does not do because of her pregnant belly. Even during the church sermon when Pastor Vera was telling the love story of the woman who was a whore, he still refers her as a whore, a prostitute, and that only god can save her. This resonates with the women in the church as they speak up and say Christ saved them, including the Colombian sister that was looking for someone to marry. Chino’s decision to attend the church was to like he said get on Blanca’s good side, but while in church as everyone is being tranced by the words of Pastor Vera he looks around and is the only one that doesn’t believe in it and can feel everyone’s eyes sort of pressuring him to enjoy.

  11. The author explains after the class, Julio is seen in the neighborhood looking for Sapo’s car without any luck. Julio’s childhood best friend, Sapo, is also bound by a deep sense of loyalty. Despite the complications it creates in Julio’s marriage, his trustworthiness to Sapo is unbreakable, implying that people in this culture value their loyalty to one another very highly, even though it comes at a substantive personal expense. Julio believes that staying loyal to his childhood friend Sapo is essential, even after taking on other responsibilities such as marriage. Julio wants to visit Negra to confirm what she knows because when his wife learns of Sapo, it will be trouble. Julio’s house is set on fire by Aaron Fischman as revenge for the death of Salazar. Julio is happy to see Sapo and joins him to see Nazario. The Chino investigates Sapo about the death of Salazar, which finally admits he didn’t kill but bite; he continued to solicit more information, but Sapo sends a warning signal, but at least chino had learned about the death of Salazar.
    At they arrive at the abandoned building, Although Sapo exchanges parcels, Julio observes some men making jokes about the differences in sleeping with white and Latin children. Julio, Sapo believes, likes Blanca because she is a “white Spanish.” This indicated that sexism is not just a joke, but from the other men, it implies that it is a widespread issue in the community and colorism. Julio likes Blanca because she exhibits characteristics of a “white Spanish” individual, according to Sapo, revealing how oppressed Latin people can internalize stereotypical views about their ethnicity. There is a little tension at the Queens between Aaron Fischman and Mr. Cavalleri, who runs the Italian section of East Harlem.

  12. Option 2
    Chino finds out that Sapo didn’t killed Salazar, even though it looked as if he did. Sapo was apparently on the scene of the crime still denying that he did it. Sapo is protecting Chino here, in my opinion. Sapo tells Chino how too much information is not good when it comes to a situation like this. Sapo warns Chino not to get involved. Sapo later on brings up how Chino likes “white girls” and how Chino would never date a Latina, even though Chino’s girl is a Latina. Sapo professes his love for Latina women over white ones. He teases Chino by calling Blanca, “white Spanish” creating a stigma that Chino only likes white girls.

  13. Option 1

    The author describes Blanca as an easy going girl with an angelic air to her. She is known in the community as “The Pentecostal girl” for her devotion to her religious faith. Although Blanca is clearly devoted to her religious faith and not interested in sexual experiences outside of marriage, her sheer beauty draws the ire of nearly all male members of the community. Eventually, Blanca becomes romantically involved with a young man named Chino. As much of a surprise, Chino has virtually no interest for the Church or spiritual pursuits. While Blanca begins to feel strongly for Chino, his indifference towards religion begins to become a serious concern for her. This especially becomes apparent when Blanca and Chino come to a serious argument, and Chino chastises her fixation on religion as a potential solution for their qualms.

    While it seems the relationship certainly has the potential to fall apart, Chino eventually “wisens up” and demonstrates his true love and devotion to Blanca by accompanying her to the Church. While this definitely clashed with Chino’s indifference towards religion, it was in important step in their relationship as Chino acknowledged he respected the importance Blanca placed on her religious practice. While Chino does scoff at much of the Church’s practices, his presence with Blanca was enough to placate her concerns about him.

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