Bodega Dreams

7 July 2016

In the novel Bodega Dreams intersectionality functions in the way the characters envision themselves achieving their definition of success and how they will achieve it. Intersectionality is the “interlocking inequalities of race, gender, ethnicity, and class that create a matrix of domination within which privileges and disadvantages are unequally distributed among people” (Intersections of Gender, Race, Ethnicity, and Class, 02/14).

Even though two of the book’s characters Julio (most commonly known as Chino) and Edwin Nazario use their masculinity to obtain what they desire, each individual is gifted with dissimilar traits of masculinity that aid in achievement of what they yearn for. All while consuming the hardships of growing up in the Puerto Rican community of East Spanish Harlem. Chino, originally a kind-hearted, law abiding citizen, knew establishing a name for oneself at a young age was necessary. As Chino expresses, “To have a name other than the one your parents had given you meant you had status in school, had status on your block.

Bodega Dreams Essay Example

You were somebody” (Quinonez 4). Getting a name meant having to fight. Relevance was important for a young Puerto Rican in el barrio. If a name is well known, the more power and recognition one obtains through their “fighter quality”. With the powerful combination of fear and power, total domination and influence over their subordinates is acquired. After forming an alliance with the town’s most callous fighter Sapo, fighting became a way of life for the two. Contrary to his belief or “version” of masculinity holding the key to his dreams, it was his genuine personality and gentle character that attracted his crush Blanca Saldivia.

Blanca, a Pentecostal girl who was praised by all those who knew her due to the pureness and beauty she possessed, was captivated by Julio’s non-violent nature. It separated Chino from the rest of the young hooligans like his best friend or “pana” Sapo. His dream of domestic bliss was now reality, and rewardingly, Chino now held greater value in the Puerto Rican community in which they reside. Chino was gifted as a painter. He was always using his artistic skills to make the school assemblies and murals appealing to the crowd.

To an extent this was a disadvantage for the young Latino. The white teachers of the school did not take Chino’s education (or that of any Latino student) into consideration as they requested for Chino to skip class numerous times to paint according to their needs. “To the white teachers we were all (minority groups) going to end up delinquents” (Quinonez 6). Fortunately, Chino took advantage of these opportunities to sharpen his artistic skills thus allowing him to enroll in the High School of Art and Design. Once accepted many of his visions now seemed attainable.

This would serve as a stepping stool in his desire to pursue the “American Dream”. Julio wanted to reinvent himself. He no longer wanted the world to be just his neighborhood. Knowing the only way Chino and his wife Nancie “Blanca” Saldivia were going to change their lives was to enroll at Hunter College. College meant education, education translates into intellect and knowledge which now increases Chino’s credibility and status amongst the community. He was no longer some vagabond from the streets. Commitment and intellect only increased his desirability from his wife.

Having some sort of cultural capital and not having any involvement with drug dealing, Chino was now looked upon by the neighborhood’s drug lord and his right-hand-man Edwin Nazario. They saw him as someone who was smart and trustworthy who could aid in the renovation of East Harlem. Edwin Nazario was a tall, physically appealing, and well-spoken individual who had exceptional political knowledge. Having spent his youth in the harsh streets he began to know the system and establish many connections at a young age.

Nazario was educated, possessed many dynamic skills along with cunning charisma and charm. As Chino expresses,” Nazario blended his education with politeness, which made himself be looked upon with love, respect and a little fear” (Quinonez 99) demonstrates the importance and relevance of Edwin’s presence throughout the community. Nazario increased both Chino’s and Bodega’s value and was a huge part of Willie Bodega’s success. Chino is now also widely recognized amongst the people of Spanish Harlem due to his acquaintance with Nazario.

A graduate from Brooklyn Law School, Edwin Nazario was the nefarious barrio lawyer who aided social activist drug lord Willie Bodega and the people of Spanish Harlem in leading the fight for political, social, and economic power. Nazario wanted to improve the community by helping renovate and house his fellow Puerto Ricans by building an empire of legal enterprises. Edwin’s class sets him apart from the rest of the Puerto Rican “image” as he is almost seen as a belonging to a different race due to his complexion and higher status. He is viewed as becoming “Americanized”.

All of which indefinitely increases his desirability. Nazario plans on conquering Spanish Harlem along with Bodega knowing it will increase his social status and power for the sole purpose of obtaining his long lost lover Veronica “Vera Saldivia. Vera was an avaricious Puerto Rican woman who married a rich Cuban agreeably for his materialistic possessions. Attaining such power in Spanish Harlem could only be achieved with the help of his mistress. Being a physically pleasant man of power, Vera undoubtedly accepts the evil genius’s idea of betraying his partner in crime.

After Nazario fatally shot Bodega, the materialistic female joyed at the fact this only increased Nazario’s wealth and social status. Although very much different from one another, Chino and Edwin Nazario each attained their dreams according to the cultural capital they possessed. Whether it be Chino’s benevolence or Nazario’s power, wealth, and charm, each valuable asset helped them “get ahead” in East Spanish Harlem. Race, class, and gender, all contributed in molding the value of each individual’s cultural capital that helped them achieve their version of the “American Dream”.

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