Analysis of Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle

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Analysis of Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle

T.C. Boyle establishes the general setting of “Tortilla Curtain” by

giving detailed information on the place and providing hints about the

time. The place of action is established in the first chapter when

Delaney Mossbacher hits a Mexican with his car. This accident occurs

on a road near the Topanga Creek (cf. p. 12) in a suburban area around

Los Angeles, California[1]. Throughout the novel Boyle uses original

sites around Los Angeles in the plot, which makes the novel realistic.

The time of action is not as clearly introduced as the place. The Diet

Coke on the backseat of the car (cf. p. 9) leads to the assumption

that the novel is set up after 1982[2]. This assumption is supported

by a major topic of the novel: Mexican immigration, which has

developed decisively after 1970[3]. More detailed information on the

time is given when the reader learns that the exact model of Delaney’s

car is Acura Vigor GS (cf. p. 151). This car was produced by Honda

after 1992[4].

The mood of “Tortilla Curtain” is difficult to determine. It

alternates between hopeful and hopeless; sometimes it is aggressive

and often gloomy. The changes of mood are a result of the change of

perspective in each chapter, showing two different views on the same

setting in an alternating pattern.

The changes of perspective also have an effect on the society which

Boyle depicts in “Tortilla Curtain”. On the one side there are

Americans, who live in a clean and safe area in the suburbs of Los

Angeles, and on the other side there are illegal Mexicans, who have to

struggle to survive. Both societies exist in parallel and live in the

same area, and yet they cannot differ more.

The differences in ...

... middle of paper ... Delaney believes in the

beginning of the novel in peaceful coexistence of different cultures

within a nation. He trusts in the constitution and he believes that

the human rights covered by the constitution have to be applied to all

human beings in the country (cf. pp. 188-189). But in the end he even

refuses América and Cándido the right to live and is willing to hunt

them with his gun. Boyle clearly criticises the attitude of

upper-class Americans towards immigration. It is ironical, that he

gives names of recent European immigrants to racists like Jardine,

Obst and Liebermann, whose intention is to reduce immigration.

Works Cited




[4] “Acura Vigor GS”


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