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The Tortilla Curtain Essay

1416 words - 6 pages

Nathan Lee
November 14, 2012
The Tortilla Curtain
In T.C. Boyle's novel, "The Tortilla Curtain," the author makes an argument about the illegal immigration by using a image of coyote. The author discusses the symbolism as portrayed by the coyote as similar to that of the American attitude toward illegal immigrants in the United States. In this novel, Boyle tells an effective story of the illegal immigration in Southern California. While he tells the story of several characters throughout the novel, he best depicts the feelings of the characters symbolically by paralleling the story of the immigrants as comparable to the coyotes which continuously intrude into the yards of the residents ...view middle of the document...

Like this coyote, the immigrants jump over the fence, take what is not rightfully theirs, and then vault right back over.
Boyle also uses the coyote as a symbol to parallel with the illegal aliens. Delaney Mossbacher writes a monthly column in the paper that is about nature. In one of his columns he talks about how the coyotes life compared with the illegal Mexicans. “One coyote, who makes his living on the fringes of my community… has learned to simply chew his way through the plastic irrigation pipes whenever he wants a drink.” (p.212) This is one of the quotes from Delaney’s column. In this quote Delaney is talking about how the coyote lives just like the illegal Mexicans. This is a definite parallel to Candido. Candido is an illegal Mexican who is living in the hills trying to live off the land. This is very much like the coyotes life. He too lives off the land. Delany also 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 does not 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).
The article "Pilgrim at Topanga Creek," which is included in the novel, shows Delaney's fear toward coyotes. "I am waiting for something, I don't know what, but if I can filter out the glowing evidence of our omnipresent civilization...And then I hear it, a high tenuous glissade of sound that I might almost have mistaken for a siren if I didn't know better, and I realize that this is what I've been waiting for all along: the coyote chorus." (p.78) This particular column discusses one of Delaney's hikes and his feelings and marveling concerning the natural world that he encounters in the canyon. He had been describing a feeling of anticipation which he could not explain until hearing the song of the coyote, the animal associated with the Mexican immigrants. Delaney's attitude towards these coyotes reflects the conflicting fear and fascination that white Americans have with such wild, uncontrollable forces. Delaney fears the coyotes, having experienced their cunning first-hand, but at the same time it is the coyote's song that finally puts him at ease with the night. The way Candido and America live is much similar to the way the coyote lives. In each instance we can see that they both scavenge around and try to live off of the land. In one of Delaney’s columns he writes that the coyote has adapted....

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