Tag: Mexicans

Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle

May 29th, 2012 — 1:25am

Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle– In the past few years I have read various books about the plight of oppressed immigrant groups as they struggle to make it in America at different times in our history. This includes, Chinese, Japanese, and of course European immigrants including Holocaust survivors. However this is the first book that I have read about this subject in which most of the action takes place in locations, which would be less than 15-minute drive from my home in Woodland Hills California. Tortilla Curtain is the story of Mexican immigrants struggling for a foothold in the America, which happens to be near and about Topanga Canyon in the San Fernando Valley. A young Mexican woman interestingly named “America” and her slightly older husband Candidio are smuggled across the border in in an effort to do what so many of our ancestors have done. That would be to attempt to achieve some version of what they see as the American dream. The other main focus of this story is Delaney, a self proclaimed liberal who lives with his wife Kyra, a successful real estate agent and her son Jordon from a previous marriage. They live in a spacious community that progresses from a gated community to a walled community because of the real and the perceived dangers from coyotes as well as from some of the Mexican immigrants. The author T.C. Boyle allows the reader to know both sets of characters and their back-story. We come to appreciate Delaney and his wife’s frustration as they see their beloved dogs snatched away by coyotes who follow their own natural inclination to survive. They also have a run in with some of illegal Mexican immigrants who we come to know as honest, hard working people who are following their own natural instincts to survive. They want to earn a living and provide for their themselves and ultimately for their family. Delaney is turned into an angry, revengeful, vicious man and his wife is depicted as a self-indulgent women.  As the story progresses the reader loses any empathy or identification, which they may originally, had for them. I neglected to say that Delaney by occupation is a writer who studied and wrote about nature and all it’s little creatures with special emphasis on the environment. This becomes an ironic point because it is the natural instincts of America and Candido as well as the other immigrants who are just also trying to survive in their environment which brings them into conflict with Delaney and his neighbors. Even a cursory study of the natural climate factors in this area would lead one to understand that FIRE is required to keep nature in balance but when a fire is accidentally set by those trying to survive or by  just by lightning, it becomes the immigrants who are blamed. This probably is not very much different than when the Jews are blamed for bad economic times or when any other persecuted group is blamed for the frustrations of the group in power.  This is a powerful story and if you live near where the story takes place, it feels more personal even if you truly believe that we are past most of this type of thinking

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