Tattoos on the Heart


Gregory Boyle

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Caldo de Iguana Symbol Analysis

Caldo de Iguana Symbol Icon

Father Gregory Boyle describes a visit to a Mexican prison during which he witnesses the prisoners working together to prepare a traditional Mexican stew called caldo de iguana. Though the prisoners have very little individually, they each bring an ingredient—sometimes the only thing they have—to put in the stew. Together, the prisoners make a stew that is tasty and nourishing and everyone gets a bowl of it. Had the prisoners not shared their ingredients and worked together to make the stew, they would have been hungry, so the soup symbolizes the benefits of cooperation and compassion. The stew is the life-affirming result of a group of people with difficult lives realizing that, no matter what their divisions, they are more powerful if they recognize what connects them.

Caldo de Iguana Quotes in Tattoos on the Heart

The Tattoos on the Heart quotes below all refer to the symbol of Caldo de Iguana. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Kinship Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Free Press edition of Tattoos on the Heart published in 2011.
Chapter 6 Quotes

Maybe there are eight of us or so when the meal finally gets served. Plenty to go around and just as tasty as it could be. Everyone brought his flavor to this forbidden pot of iguana stew and keeping anyone away and excluded was unthinkable to this band of prisoners. Alone, they didn't have much, but together, they had a potful of plenty.

Related Characters: Father Gregory Boyle (speaker)
Related Symbols: Caldo de Iguana
Page Number: 142
Explanation and Analysis:
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Caldo de Iguana Symbol Timeline in Tattoos on the Heart

The timeline below shows where the symbol Caldo de Iguana appears in Tattoos on the Heart. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6: Jurisdiction
Kinship Theme Icon
Gangs and Gang Violence Theme Icon
The Outcast Theme Icon
...waiting. Beto lights a fire under the pot and begins cooking a delicious Mexican dish, caldo de iguana . Other prisoners begin to gather, and Beto serves them some of the thick, tasty... (full context)