The Wanderer

Bompie Character Analysis

Though Bompie physically appears in the novel only for a short amount of time, he is present throughout The Wanderer’s entire journey in Sophie’s thoughts and the stories she tells of him. When Bompie became Sophie’s adoptive grandfather, he began sending her letters, first welcoming her to the family, and then telling her stories about his life. Bompie’s letters fascinate Sophie, and she grows to become very fond of him, saying that he always understands how she’s feeling. Bompie plays a pivotal role in the novel not only through his stories, but also when he meets Sophie in person for the first time. When Sophie retells all the stories he’d sent her in his letters, she adds one which he doesn’t recognize—when his parents died in an accident at sea. Bompie tells Sophie: “That’s your story, honey,” and Sophie breaks down and cries. Before this, Bompie had served as a way for Sophie to distance herself from her past. While she greatly identified with Bompie, this was perhaps due to the fact that she had transferred her own history onto Bompie. Sophie’s changed relationship with Bompie—when she realizes that the story about the accident at sea is her own—therefore begins to change her own sense of identity. Bompie, then, serves partly as a vehicle for Sophie to achieve a truer relationship with her past.

Bompie Quotes in The Wanderer

The The Wanderer quotes below are all either spoken by Bompie or refer to Bompie. 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:
The Passage of Time Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperCollins edition of The Wanderer published in 2011.
V. Wind and Waves Quotes

It seems a hundred years ago that we were lobstering and clamming on Grand Manan and trekking around Wood Island, and it seems a hundred years ago that we were eager to get under way, oblivious to what lay in wait for us. I feel as if I have to start to love sailing again, because I don’t love it now. I just want to get to Bompie and forget about the ocean for a while.

Related Characters: Sophie (speaker), Bompie
Related Symbols: The Wave, The Open Ocean
Page Number: 200
Explanation and Analysis:

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I am thinking about Bompie. At last I will see Bompie. Why am I scared?

Related Characters: Sophie (speaker), Bompie
Page Number: 202
Explanation and Analysis:

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Everyone is talking about reaching Ireland, but I feel weird, as if we’re not really going to get there, or as if I’m not ready to be there. And what will happen with Sophie when we do reach Bompie? Maybe that’s part of the reason I don’t want to get there. I’m afraid for Sophie.

Related Characters: Cody (speaker), Sophie, Bompie
Page Number: 212
Explanation and Analysis:

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VI. Land Quotes

I reached across the bed and touched her hand. “Sophie,” I said. “Maybe that’s not Bompie’s story. Maybe that’s your story.”
Bompie whispered, “Sophie, he’s right. That’s your story, honey.”
Sophie stared at me and then at Bompie. She looked so scared and so little sitting there beside Bompie. And then she put her head down on Bompie’s chest and she cried and cried and cried.

Related Characters: Cody (speaker), Sophie, Bompie
Related Symbols: The Wave, The Little Kid
Page Number: 249
Explanation and Analysis:

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It was strange reading the ones about the car in the river, and leaping off the train tracks, and Bompie’s baptism, and Bompie in the swimming hole, and Bompie at the ocean. Most of what Sophie had told us was pretty much the way he had told it to her in his letters, except for the parts about struggling in the water. He was in the water all those times, but he hadn’t written about struggling in it.
Those parts had come from Sophie.

Related Characters: Cody (speaker), Sophie, Bompie
Page Number: 250
Explanation and Analysis:

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I’m not in dreamland or earthland or mule-land. I’m just right here, right now. When I close my eyes, I can still smell the sea, but I feel as if I’ve been dunked in the clear cool water and I’ve come out all clean and new.
Bye-bye, Bompie. Bye-bye, sea.

Related Characters: Sophie (speaker), Bompie
Related Symbols: The Open Ocean
Page Number: 267
Explanation and Analysis:

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Bompie Character Timeline in The Wanderer

The timeline below shows where the character Bompie appears in The Wanderer. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
I. Preparations
Men and Women Theme Icon
...going to sail across the ocean with her uncles and cousins to visit her grandfather, Bompie, in England. She says that her uncles Stew and Mo tried to dissuade her from... (full context)
II. Shakedown
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...Sophie decides that she’s going to teach her “boat family” the stories that her grandfather Bompie has taught her. (full context)
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...him, and Cody replied, “Yep.” Cody writes that Sophie is going to tell her first Bompie-story tomorrow. (full context)
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
14. Bompie and the Car. Cody writes an entry about the first Bompie story Sophie tells aboard... (full context)
III. The Island
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Cody then writes about another Bompie story Sophie tells. When Bompie was young, he lived near the Ohio River, where it... (full context)
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
Cody then retells another Bompie story from Sophie, this time about when Bompie was baptized. When Bompie was a teenager,... (full context)
IV. Under Way
The Passage of Time Theme Icon
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
32. Bompie and the Swimming Hole. Cody then writes a log entry that records another one of... (full context)
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
After Sophie finishes her story, Brian asks why Bompie, in story after story, keeps going in the water if he always gets in trouble... (full context)
V. Wind and Waves
The Passage of Time Theme Icon
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
46. Bompie at the Ocean. Cody writes another entry about one of Sophie’s Bompie stories, which she... (full context)
The Passage of Time Theme Icon
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
53. Bompie and his Father. Cody writes an entry about another Bompie story Sophie tells—she mentioned it... (full context)
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
Cody adds that he’s still not sure how Sophie knows Bompie’sstories, or if they even really are Bompie’s stories. If they are, did he really only... (full context)
VI. Land
Men and Women Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...repaired, and whether the rest of the crew should rent a car and drive to Bompie’s versus sailing to England once the boat had been fixed. Mo and Stew started quibbling... (full context)
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...she says the whole crew is piled in a rental car on the way to Bompie’s—Uncle Dock found someone to start repair work on The Wanderer, so everyone is able to... (full context)
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...dad’s voice—she thought she would never talk to them again. Sophie’s mom, however, said that Bompie hadn’t been well; after hearing this, everyone quickly returned to the car and began rushing... (full context)
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...crossing the Irish Sea towards Wales. He says Brian asked Sophie if she thought that Bompie would recognize everyone or not—she says “Of course,” and Cody writes that Brian didn’t seem... (full context)
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
...they could stop more to look around, but they’re in a rush to get to Bompie’s. Sophie says that, while before she was scared about seeing Bompie and what meeting him... (full context)
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...to know, too, and Brian says he still thinks that Sophie is lying about knowing Bompie. Dock then tries to answer them by telling a vague story about a little girl—different... (full context)
The Passage of Time Theme Icon
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
...father was born. Brian whispers to Cody, saying that he still wonders how Sophie knows Bompie’sstories—did she make them up? Cody says he doesn’t know, and then writes that he wants... (full context)
The Passage of Time Theme Icon
...a McDonald’s across the street. She says that they’re maybe a half hour away from Bompie. (full context)
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
71. The Cottage. Cody’snext entry details the crew’s arrival at Bompie’scottage. When they arrive, a nurse greets them, and leads them to Bompie’s room, where he’s... (full context)
The Passage of Time Theme Icon
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
72. Bompie.Sophie’s following entry picks up where the last one left off, and says that, after Dock... (full context)
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
73. The Story. Cody’s next entry begins a week after they’ve arrived at Bompie’s. On the second day there, Cody says that Sophie began telling Bompie his own stories.... (full context)
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
After realizing that the story is her own, Sophie puts her head on Bompie’s chest and cries. Cody says he left them there together, and about an hour later,... (full context)
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
74. Apples. In her next entry, Sophie says that, even though Bompie was so weak and bedridden, it didn’t stop Stew and Mo from arguing about whether... (full context)
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
76. Gifts. Sophie writes that, on their last night with Bompie, Mo gave everyone a drawing he had done. He made one for Bompie of him... (full context)
The Passage of Time Theme Icon
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
...last journal entry, he says that it was difficult saying goodbye to Uncle Dock and Bompie, but that it was incredible to fly over the ocean back to the U.S., and... (full context)
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
...river. They’re going to build a raft and try to find the train bridge that Bompie jumped off, where he was baptized, and the place he lost the car to the... (full context)
The Passage of Time Theme Icon
Dreaming vs. The Real World Theme Icon
Family and Personal Identity Theme Icon
The Mysteries of Life and Death Theme Icon
...if she’s “been dunked in the clear cool water” and re-emerged anew. She writes: “Bye-bye, Bompie. Bye-bye, sea.” (full context)