"Bodega Dreams," Vocabulary from Book 2

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. gruesome
    shockingly repellent; inspiring horror
    It had been a gruesome display of hate and anger and Sapo, as only Sapo could, presented it with showmanship.
  2. simpleton
    a person lacking intelligence or common sense
    I’ll tell you why: because the people in this district are simpletons, that’s why.
  3. analogy
    drawing a comparison in order to show a similarity
    Blessington then went to the board and wrote, “ Analogies Between Frost’s Poems and New York City.”
  4. apparition
    a ghostly appearing figure
    As I stepped out I spotted a tall man in an Italian suit, standing in the bright spring sun glowing like an apparition.
  5. sever
    cut off from a whole
    I would sever all ties to Bodega.
  6. uncanny
    surpassing the ordinary or normal
    He had the uncanny ability to be stoically cold under pressure and extremely warm with the people.
  7. farce
    a comedy characterized by broad satire
    It was a silent agreement in which each party knew what proper respects to pay, a polite farce created to ease the strain of acknowledging who owed who and what.
  8. dispatch
    send away towards a designated goal
    Bodega would then dispatch Nazario to talk with this person’s neighbors, depending on what he heard (whether this person was “good people” being honorable and trustworthy or some cheap-ass who would rip off the neighborhood).
  9. nostalgic
    unhappy about being away and longing for familiar things
    For the first time I thought I had seen in his eyes some sort of nostalgic sentiment, a weakness maybe.
  10. renovate
    restore to a previous or better condition
    So now I knew why he was renovating all those buildings.
  11. stigma
    a symbol of disgrace or infamy
    Nazario would lead, leaving Bodega to take all the hits, absorb the stigma, because of what he was.
  12. accumulate
    collect or gather
    But if we build a strong professional class and accumulate property, we can counter that effect.
  13. cunning
    crafty artfulness, especially in deception
    Even Bodega with his street smarts and cunning lacked what Nazario had.
  14. treacherous
    tending to betray
    He was what we all wanted to be like, the Latin professional whom the Anglos feared because he was just as treacherous, just as devious, and he understood power.
  15. arrogant
    having or showing feelings of unwarranted importance
    A pompous pigeon, his arrogant chest stuck out like a banker’s, sat on top of the flagpole.
  16. bravado
    a swaggering show of courage
    He looked at me with bravado, took a third drag, put out the cigarette.
  17. alleviate
    provide physical relief, as from pain
    He then went on about something else, something that only makes sense when you are afraid of death or desperately in love and will say anything to alleviate the terror.
  18. diplomacy
    subtly skillful handling of a situation
    And because his everyday speech didn’t have any diplomacy, he defended his case the way he always did.
  19. cultivated
    marked by refinement in taste and manners
    Her gestures, her voice, her social graces had been so well studied and cultivated that she could have fooled anyone who wasn’t familiar with her past.
  20. gloat
    dwell on with satisfaction
    She was returning to her old neighborhood to gloat, to show her family what she had made of herself.
  21. oust
    remove from a position or office
    The rich Cuban family Vera had married into still kept the pink slips of their nationalized lands in Cuba, along with high hopes of reclaiming them once Castro was ousted or finally, finally died.
  22. skirmish
    a minor short-term fight
    He must have believed that if he kept winning these tiny skirmishes, victory would eventually be his.
  23. conquistador
    an adventurer
    Her liberator who was first going to free her from her mother, then free Puerto Rico, and later they would both sail back to America like conquistadors in reverse.
  24. ultimatum
    a final peremptory demand
    I pictured her telling all this to her friends until they were so sick and tired of it that Veronica herself began to question her liberator until finally the day arrived when she gave Bodega the ultimatum, the Young Lords or her.
  25. melancholy
    a feeling of thoughtful sadness
    They stood there facing each other and for a second I thought they had reached that stage of intoxication where silliness gives way to melancholy and self-pity.
  26. sinister
    wicked, evil, or dishonorable
    Afterward, after the yelling, the apartment took on a sinister hue.
  27. strife
    bitter conflict; heated often violent dissension
    They will soon fly with angel wings and He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, nor will mourning or strife or pain.
  28. imbue
    fill or soak totally
    The congregation was growing angry because Roberto had imbued them with outrage.
  29. nonchalance
    the trait of remaining calm and seeming not to care
    You never think it will be your own home that’s on fire, but when it is, all the toughness, the calloused nonchalance of watching fires and hearing sirens falls away.
  30. empathy
    understanding and entering into another's feelings
    A tall, elegant man came into focus with his arms outstretched and a face of pure empathy.
  31. ignorance
    the lack of knowledge or education
    She was still not completely sold on my claims of ignorance about that reporter’s death, and as soon as she heard Nazario mention Bodega I sensed she was sure he was one of Bodega’s pawns.
  32. arson
    malicious burning to destroy property
    Not with the fire department, which would know right away it was arson and dismiss it as another case of pyromania in a neighborhood crawling with firebugs.
  33. disperse
    move away from each other
    I was about to ask something else when we heard the tenants say Amen in a chorus of hope and then begin to disperse.
  34. affect
    act physically on
    The windows facing the street were covered with plywood and only the first floor was renovated so it looked as if the fire that emptied the building hadn’t affected that floor.
  35. desolate
    providing no shelter or sustenance
    It was an ugly, desolate store, with posters of Marvel superheroes taped to the wall, where all you heard were stories of things that might have happened.
  36. erratic
    liable to sudden unpredictable change
    I mean, on good days, what I was learning in college excited me in ways the street and its erratic and petty rules never could.
  37. adapt
    conform oneself to new or different conditions
    You couldn’t have change without evolution and some people would get hurt and become extinct in the process because they couldn’t adapt.
  38. disruption
    an act of delaying or interrupting the continuity
    What bothered Blanca was the disruption this would bring to the spiritual peace of the congregation.
  39. exile
    the act of expelling a person from their native land
    Roberto’s mother had sent the eldest into exile and put all her hopes in the youngest.
  40. reorient
    determine one's position once again
    It was as if he had forgotten where he stood in the universe and only those words coming from Vera could reorient him to his place in the cosmos.
  41. stint
    an unbroken period of time during which you do something
    I was enjoying hearing his saga of being thrown out of his home, living on the streets, and doing short stints in jail for petty theft.
  42. coordinated
    intentionally matched
    His shirt, tie, and shoes were color- coordinated, evidence that Vera had dressed him for the occasion.
  43. martial
    suggesting war or military life
    The following day El Barrio resembled a country under martial law.
  44. bombard
    address continuously, as if with a barrage
    Instead of salsa music, police walkie-talkies were on full blast, bombarding the streets with what sounded like a nest of hissing snakes.
  45. vengeance
    harming someone in retaliation for something they have done
    Nazario was too practical for vengeance.

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