"Bodega Dreams," Vocabulary from Book 1

The conflicting notions of staying true to your cultural heritage or embracing assimilation are examined in Ernesto Quiñonez's "Bodega Dreams".

Learn these word lists for the novel: Book 1, Book 2, Book 3

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. rely
    have confidence or faith in
    And I wanted to be able to do that, to rely on myself for my own happiness.
  2. deny
    refuse to recognize or acknowledge
    His eyes bulged in their sockets and when he laughed there was no denying the resemblance.
  3. tenement
    a run-down apartment house barely meeting minimal standards
    After a few months, the City of New York would send a crane with a ball and chain to wreck the gutted tenements.
  4. delinquent
    a young offender
    To the white teachers we were all going to end up delinquents.
  5. emigrate
    leave one's country of residence for a new one
    The whole time I was at Julia de Burgos, I had no idea the school was named after Puerto Rico’s greatest poet, had no idea Julia de Burgos had emigrated to New York City and lived in poverty while she wrote beautiful verses.
  6. immigrate
    come into a new country and change residency
    Most of them were young, the sons and daughters of the first wave of Puerto Ricans who immigrated to El Barrio in the late forties and the fifties.
  7. convert
    cause to adopt a new or different faith
    Her face could envelop you, almost convert you.
  8. exude
    make apparent by one's mood or behavior
    Nancy exuded a purity rarely found among the church girls.
  9. genuine
    not fake or counterfeit
    She was as genuine as a statue of a saint you want to light candles to, steal flowers for, or pray in front of.
  10. clique
    an exclusive circle of people with a common purpose
    I knew that if I went to Sapo and said some guys wanted to jump me, he’d round up a crew for me, a clique from 112th and Lex or from another block.
  11. malcontent
    dissatisfied as toward authority
    The Futurists had been a malcontent group of artists at the beginning of the century who loved speed and thought war was good, the “hygiene of humanity.”
  12. palpable
    capable of being perceived
    And for a small while, those dreams seemed as palpable as that dagger Macbeth tried to grab.
  13. supernova
    a star that explodes and becomes luminous in the process
    And when that short-lived light went supernova, it would leave a blueprint of achievement and desire for anyone in the neighborhood searching for new possibilities.
  14. prefer
    like better; value more highly
    I would have preferred to have waited a year or two after we graduated, but it didn’t work out that way.
  15. privilege
    a special advantage or benefit not enjoyed by all
    I remember how cool you thought it was that you were singled out and had this special privilege.
  16. mundane
    concerned with the world or worldly matters
    When I asked her to marry me, her pastor, Miguel Vasquez, had warned her that if she married me—a worldly person, a mundane—she’d lose the privilege of playing the tambourine in front of the congregation.
  17. dignity
    the quality of being worthy of esteem or respect
    And in obtaining it, he took shortcuts and broke some laws, leaving crumbs along the way in hopes of one day turning around and finding his way back to dignity.
  18. tolerate
    put up with something or somebody unpleasant
    It was something Sapo had to tolerate, a clause he had to accept if he was going to work for Bodega.
  19. ghetto
    a poor densely populated city district
    South Bronx, South Central, South Chicago, Overtown down in Miami, they’re all the same bastard ghetto.
  20. ingenuity
    the power of creative imagination
    They said we had no ingenuity because we were Puerto Ricans.
  21. ambush
    wait in hiding to attack
    So one day we all put on our Sunday best and ambushed Gracie Mansion.
  22. charisma
    personal attractiveness that enables you to influence others
    And Mayor Lindsay, the biggest fraud this fucken city has ever known, but with enough charisma to charm Hitler, sent his fucken city officials and his police goons after us.
  23. humanitarian
    marked by devotion to popular welfare
    I run the most humanitarian housing management company in New York City.
  24. compel
    necessitate or exact
    “I’m only half Rican, my father is from Ecuador,” I felt compelled to tell Bodega.
  25. leprosy
    communicable disease characterized by wasting of body parts
    And, Chino, don’t talk to me cuz you got leprosy, ma man.
  26. goodwill
    intangible asset valued according to advantage to a business
    I could picture Bodega in an Armani suit, all legal and respectable, his renovated buildings in the background, his name no longer Bodega but something else, something politicians want on their side, a commodity of goodwill.
  27. intention
    an anticipated outcome that guides your planned actions
    You know me, I’m just a soul whose intentions are good.
  28. engulf
    flow over or cover completely
    Sapo finished his flan real quick, his big Sapo mouth engulfing every spoonful.
  29. depict
    show in, or as in, a picture
    On the walls were cheap religious pictures depicting the Devil being slain by the angel Michael.
  30. desperation
    a state in which all hope is lost or absent
    It was a place that knew hunger and desperation.
  31. subsidize
    support through government grants
    On the Upper East Side an apartment facing the East River would be priceless, but this is Spanish Harlem, where most rents are subsidized by Section Eight.
  32. panoramic
    as from an altitude or distance
    Regardless, the panoramic scenes are the same from any neighborhood: red-orange sunrises, blue-black moonlit nights.
  33. remorse
    a feeling of deep regret, usually for some misdeed
    Her face seemed less angry and I thought I even detected some remorse.
  34. reluctant
    not eager
    I knew he was reluctant to pull his hand away from his stomach, but he agreed, nodding his head and grimacing in pain.
  35. summon
    ask to come
    “Metropolitan Hospital,” I said to the driver, but Victor summoned a bit of reserve energy.
  36. persecute
    cause to suffer
    “This girl,” I asked, “is she from some country where they persecute Pentecostals or something?”
  37. fidelity
    the quality of being faithful
    Blanca laughed and then preached to Negra about fidelity, which meant Negra was thinking of getting back at Victor in yet another way.
  38. earnest
    characterized by a firm, humorless belief in one's opinions
    As she spoke with Negra, I listened to her sweet, earnest voice in the darkness of the bedroom and I felt happy.
  39. beckon
    summon with a wave, nod, or some other gesture
    Nazario beckoned with his hand for Bodega to join him so they could talk in private.
  40. maraca
    a rattle-like instrument that is shaken to make noise
    That was okay, because it was a hot spring night and El Barrio had turned into a maraca and all the people had come out transformed as seeds.
  41. clarity
    the quality of being coherent and easily understood
    Once I’d done that, I could continue my life with Blanca in total clarity.
  42. segregated
    separated or isolated from others or a main group
    There were racially segregated tenements that never rented to blacks or Latinos.
  43. manifesto
    a public declaration of intentions
    They wrote up a manifesto called the “Thirteen Point Program and Platform.”
  44. conviction
    an unshakable belief in something without need for proof
    She liked his ideas, his conviction, his optimism.
  45. poignant
    keenly distressing to the mind or feelings
    The wood was old and the paint was cracking, giving the Nativity scene a poignant look of absolute poverty.

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