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. 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. This assumption is supported
by a major topic of the novel: Mexican immigration, which has
developed decisively after 1970. 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
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 ...
...ms. 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.
 www.google.de “Acura Vigor GS”
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