In Delany’s article "Pilgrim at Topanga Creek”, Boyle makes a social commentary about possible causes and solutions for the immigration problem through further development of coyotes as a symbol for immigrants. This is my favorite example because it ties so many different aspects of the novel together with the metaphor.
On the surface, Delany describes coyotes in his article as “our cleverest and most resourceful large predator” (p.211). He claims that they are able to take advantage of the resources that we unwittingly provide. The article includes a story to prove how cunning coyotes are by describing how they tapped into some irrigation pipes to create their own water supply. While he doesn’t seem to know exactly how to solve the problem, as most measures have lasted only a short while before failing, it is obvious that Delany is afraid of coyotes because they represent a threat to his ideally regimented lifestyle. He leaves his readers with a final warning about the dangers of coyotes and calls for residents to heed his warnings and “leave no food source, however negligible, where he can access it” (p.214).
In a similar sense, most of the article can be evaluated within the context of coyotes symbolizing immigrants. As Boyle shows through the lives of the Rincóns, the Mexican immigrants surrounding them were able to use the resources of the neighborhood to deliver their baby and construct a temporary shack for example. Furthermore, as Delany talks about failed attempts to protect themselves from the coyotes, like the first and second chain link fences erected around their yard, Boyle is making a commentary about the wall within the novel meant to keep out immigrants and, in a broader sense, about failed immigration policies. Within Delany’s life, the wall failed to keep Cándido out of his neighborhood just like both fences failed to keep out coyotes. Both were able to scale their obstacle with relative ease to accomplish their goals of acquiring...
...The TortillaCurtain by T.C. Boyle
Delaney Mossbacher, the protagonist of Boyle’s The TortillaCurtain, is the typical American family man. He is married to Kyra, “the undisputed volume leader at Mike Bender Realty, Inc.” and he is the stepfather of Jordan. As Kyra has a fulltime job, Delaney takes care of Jordan and the household duties, while receiving the privilege of working from home as a “liberal humanist.” Delaney writes for “Wide Open Spaces,” which is a magazine of “a naturalist’s observations of the life blooming” around him. As Delaney is only required to write one magazine a month, he tends to have a lot of spare time, in which he can “let the day settle around him.”
In his free time, Delaney enjoys taking hikes and exploring nature that is right beside his Arroyo Blanco Estates house, located in Topanga Canyon. Seeing as him and his wife maintain a healthy lifestyle as “joggers, nonsmokers, and social drinkers,” Delaney is physically built. Along with being an outdoorsman, Delaney is very involved in his neighborhood and the community that surrounds him. He cares for everything around him, as he is a part of “the Sierra Club, Save the Children, and the National Wildlife Federation.” He is a giving person, and is educated about the world and what is around him. Most outsiders would see Delaney as a kind individual who knows what he wants to make out of...
...April 15, 2008
The Compare and Contrast of Candido and Delaney
Although Delaney Mossbacher and Candido Rincon, two major and opposing characters in T.C. Boyle’s The TortillaCurtain, both reside in Southern California’s Topanga Canyon, the worlds in which they live are from similar. Like opposite sides of the same coin, Delaney and Candido are living opposite lives on opposite sides of the same wall.
Delaney, the liberal, environmentalist first meets Candido, the illegal, Mexican immigrant when their worlds literally crash into each other. While driving his custom, foreign car to the recycling center, Delaney hits Candido who is crossing the street when returning from the market. Initially, Delaney is concerned about his car and then insurance rates and then lastly, for the man who was struck by his car. Candido, who is severely injured from the accident, but afraid to seek medical help due to not wanting to be found by la migra, is in pain and confused as Delaney attempts to communicate with him in English and then French. When it was apparent that neither were able to understand the other, Delaney offered Candido twenty dollars as some sort of apology, penance or maybe even bribe. It was at this point that their two lives began to parallel each other in opposite ways.
While Delaney and Candido both reside in Topanga Canyon, they each return to very different homes. Delaney returns to his expensive home in the secluded and...
...The “Other”; in The TortillaCurtain
Since its very beginnings, the United States of America has been idealized as ‘the land of the free,’ full of new opportunities for people from all around the globe. In The TortillaCurtain, written by T. Coraghessan Boyle the reader gets an up close view of the border between Americans and Mexican immigrants. Boyle uses satire to confront many trends in modern America today about immigration and separation of class. These problems are highlighted through the books four main characters, Delany and Kyra Mossbacher; rich, well-to-do, upper middle class are paralleled to Cadido and America Rincon; social outcasts, Mexican immigrants living in poverty. Boyle juxtaposes these two couples to address social ills in the modern America of today and open the eyes of his readers to understand how close their contact is, yet the contrasting lives both live. Even though our country was created by immigrants, as a people, our laws often reject newcomers. With newcomers from another area Americans can become uncomfortable. The “white” race often feels threatened by the “other” unable to define it as friend or enemy. The “other” is unknown and represents danger and lack of control. If one is not fully aware of the “other” and its customs, they have no control over them. From Toni Morrison’s essay Playing In The Dark she writes, “Power- control over...
In The TortillaCurtain, T.C. Boyle introduces two completely different families who live in southern California. Striving for their American dream, the Mossbacher’s and the Rincon’s struggle with similar difficulties everyday. But the presence of each other make them do things they would never have done before. They both go to the same grocery store, but they spend their money very different, and their American lifestyles contrast throughout the novel.
The American dream is not limited to the immigrants in trying to better their lives, though it is seen much more often. Candido brought America to the United States with promises of a better life, a nice apartment, and numerous possessions. America explicitly states that she does not want the lavish overly ornate houses that Americans often long for, just a small place to call her own and the ability to live comfortably, similarly to how the Mossbachers do. All immigrants coming into America have the American dream is some shape or form. The ability to come home day after day and spend time with their families, is all they want. However, the day Candido was hit by a car, everything changed. Candido was injured and couldn’t work to help pay for America’s apartment. Now America goes to the labor exchange to find work and gets hit and raped, while the camp gets destroyed. Then, things get even worse when the labor exchange closes altogether. Then, Candido gets mugged then, a fire...
...TortillaCurtain: Jack Jardine
Jack Jardine is a very interesting character in the story TortillaCurtain. He has a very strong influence on Delany Mossbacher, one of the central characters in the story. His influences, along with the tragic string of events concerning Delany and Candido, produce a complete turn around in the ideals of Delany by the end of the story. At the start of the story Delany is a “liberal humanist”, albeit a hypocritical one, but by the end of the story Delany is carrying a gun looking for Candido.
It is easy for readers to categorize Jack as a cruel, cold hearted, upper class bigot considering his actions and words. I have to admit I think he comes off that way sometimes. But he also is a lot more than just that. He isn’t stupid. In many ways his reasoning about illegal immigrants makes a lot of sense. Illegal immigration does hurt the economy. Illegal immigrants do take away jobs from citizens. But Jack takes it to such an extreme that it is hard for one to feel that his views of illegal immigrants and his sentiments about them are purely a result of his concern about the economy and the state.
“Don’t be surprised, because this is only the beginning. We’re under siege here-and there’s going to be a backlash.”(pg. 146)
Jack acts like citizens are in some kind of war with illegal immigrants. With sentiments like this it is hard to deny...
...Meanwhile, Kyra is on her way to pick up Jordan from a friend's house, having taken the afternoon off in an effort to spend less time working and more time with her family. As she drives through the unfamiliar part of town, listening to her relaxation tapes and sheltered from the rain, she recognizes the area as the new, quickly expanding hotspot and vows to look into it for future business. She is lost and trying to find the house where Jordan is, but the more she drives around the more she falls in love with the rural, calming atmosphere of the area. Soon, she passes a "For Sale By Owner" sign and decides to take a look, even if it means that she will be late to pick up her son. She is shocked to drive into a ten-acre property with a French-style mansion sitting in the middle. Her real estate acumen kicking in and thoughts of high commissions running through her mind, she knocks on the door and introduces herself to the owners.
Back in Topanga Canyon, Delaney is tracking Cándido's footprints, an easy task for a man who has much experience tracking wildlife. As he follows the footprints, he is not surprised to find that they end up in the vicinity of the Arroyo Blanco, immediately assuming that he is responsible for all of the stolen goods and the vandalism. He then wonders if he might be responsible for the fire as well, if maybe the man in the backwards cap (whom Delaney internally describes with the racial slur "wetback") is innocent. After all, he had hit Cándido...
Professor Ruth Rassool
30 March 2014
TortillaCurtain Theme Essay
Society today has been brought up to always treat each other fairly and to never discriminate; yet racism has become such a social norm that many of us do not acknowledge it happening on a daily basis. Racism most often occurs when people from different races do not agree with thoughts other than their own. Throughout school and life we are taught that every human being is created equal, but we do not always stick to that mentality. For too many decades America has been lead by white immigrants. In the United States, many groups have been victims of racism like Asians, Africans, Hispanics, and Native Americans. In the book The TortillaCurtain, by T.C. Boyle we clearly see racism flowing throughout the entire novel especially with the main characters Delaney Mossbacher, Jack Jardine, Jack Cherrystone, and Jim Shirley. Racism against Mexicans is very prominent in this novel, barriers are present, hate is visible, and rights are being taken away.
Barriers are used in this book in a couple different ways, walls and language. “The ones coming in through the TortillaCurtain down there, those are the ones that are killing us. They're peasants, my friend. No education, no resources, no skills - all they've got to offer is a strong back, and the irony is we need fewer and fewer strong...
...associates are then given identities that are not theirs, and soon they are no longer our equals. Eventually barriers form to separate those that differ from us from those who are similar. We create false beliefs and stereotypes to deter others from contacting the newcomers and by developing private neighborhoods to reinforce the gap we created. However, by doing so, we keep inside a single image of everything not realizing the truth behind the question of the immigrant’s objective for appearing where they are. In T.C Boyle’s novel, The TortillaCurtain, he reveals to the top and bottom of the social ladder by introducing two strangers, he gives detail of their lives, showing us that we all have one objective in mind; through his theme of survival he unearths how fear of the unfamiliar separates many people believing that certain groups are the enemy; but in reality we are all similar in searching for one thing: safety.
In the TortillaCurtain, whites point their rage and fear towards the Hispanics because their oblivious of the Hispanics’ reason for arriving in America. This unfamiliarity has caused the Caucasian community to blame the Hispanics for their many obstacles; they believe that Hispanics are “thoughtless people, stupid people, people who wanted to turn the whole world into a garbage dump, a little Tijuana” (Boyle 11). The Caucasian community does not welcome the Hispanic society, because...