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The Tortilla Curtain

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Lisa Trebs

on 24 February 2015

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Transcript of The Tortilla Curtain

1. Background
2. T. C. Boyle
2.1 Biography
2.2 Importance
3. Summary
3.1 Part 1
3.2 Part 2
3.3 Part 3
4. Character constellation
4.1 Americans
4.2 Mexicans
4.3 Minor characters
5. Topics
5.1 Mexico-US border
5.2 gap between rich and
6. Conflicts
6.1 American vs. Mexican

1. Background
- West Coast states once belonged to
- expansion of American territory
- Southern states became part of
the USA

- Passing border for work (Mexicans)
- many illegal immigrants

- long existing prejudices and racism
against Mexicans
2. Thomas. C. Boyle
2.1 Biography
02. December 1948 in Peekskill, NY
working class parents (death caused by alcoholism)
B.A in English & History
M.F.A in Fiction
Ph.D. in British Literature of the Victorian period
lecturing as a professor
wife: Karen Kvashay, one daughter, two sons
active public speaker
appearing frequently in Germany
4.2 Americans
6. Conflicts

6.4 Luck and superstition


- religious superstition
- unluckiness is cause of bad living conditions

- misfortune caused by actions of others
6.6 Possession


Delaney & Kyra Candido & America

- fresh, healthy food
- base for survival
- no appreciation - respectful treating

- big, modern house
- no house, flat
- expensive furniture, - life in rural nature
technology - no furniture, sanitary
- sanitary facilities facilities
- safety - no safety, danger

- highly paid jobs
- casual work, illicit
- no financial problems work
- many financial
The Tortilla Curtain
T. C. Boyle

6.2 Racism
6.3 Wall
6.4 Luck and superstition
6.5 Nature
6.6 Possession
7. Reviews
7.1 Negative reviews
7.2 Positive reviews
7.3 Personal review
8. Sources
8. Sources
2.2 Importance
3. Summary
4. Character constellation
4.1 Mexicans
Cándido Rincón
- illegal immigrant from Tepoztlan, Mexico
- once married to Ressurecion (Américas
older sister)
- escaped Mexico with América
- aim: achieve the "American Dream"
- good-hearted

América Rincón
- illegal immigrant from Tepoztlan, Mexico
- youngest sister of Candidos first wife
- escaped Mexico with Cándido
- imagination of a better life in America
- pregnant, later baby Socorro
- missing her family and home
- innocent, naive

6.1 American vs. Mexican lifestyle
6.2 Racism
6.3 Wall
6.5 Nature
5. Topics
5.1 Mexico-US border
5.2 Gap between rich and poor
poverty: reason Mexicans cross border illegally

Language barrier
60% able to speak English
40% not able to speak English (or less than well)

Educational gap
Mexicans less educated
59% have no High School diploma

annual earning of legal immigrants: 19000$
illegal immigrants much less

Poverty status
27% of Mexicans living in poverty

Health insurance
57% of Mexicans uninsured

7. Reviews
"I grew up 20 minutes from the Mexican border. I knew people like Candido and America, good, honest, hard-working folks who only wanted a chance to live and prosper, who spent each waking moment dreading the appearance of La Migra. TC Boyle has characterized these people beautifully. They're not angels, and he nailed the bad elements, the punks and chucos, just as thoroughly as he brought his protagonists to life on the page. If people think this book DOESN'T deal with the reality of life in Southern California...and Northern California, and Arizona, and Texas, and New Mexico, and YES, Eastern Washington, anywhere where the "haves" need the services and cheap back-breaking labor of the "have-nots"...then you need to get out more and leave the blinders at home!"
"This novel examines America's guerilla war between the haves and have-nots with an unequaled zing."
"Thrilling.. a powerful novel."
"What makes Boyle's book so good is not only its juggernaut plot, but also the author's keen eye for satire. He has achieved that rarest of literary doubles - creating a message novel that is also a thundering good read."
7.2 Positive reviews

- Mossbacher and citizens
of Arroyo Blanco
- safety, protection, stability
- living the American dream


- Candido, America and other
Mexican immigrants
- looking for American dream
- discontinuous, insecure life
- symbol of separation,
fear, protection
- figurative and real
- border between Mexicans
and Americans
- important symbols related to nature

- coyote as symbol for immigrants/
illegal aliens

- www.tcboyletortillacurtain.wordpress.com/geography/
- www.knittingandsundries.com/2010/10/tortilla-curtain-by-t-c-
- www.tcboyle.com
- www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexico–United_States_border
- www.education.nationalgeographic.com/education/media/
- www.home.arcor.de/tortillacurtain/author.htm
- www.gradesaver.com/the-tortilla-curtain/study-guide/themes
- www.gradesaver.com/the-tortilla-curtain/study-guide/summary-
- www.tc-boyle.de/der-autor/biografie.html
- www.goodreads.com/book/show/24731.The_Tortilla_Curtain
- www.amazon.com/The-Tortilla-Curtain-Coraghessan-Boyle/
Push factors > < Pull factors
- better living standart
- better academic opportunities
- migrant communities

- unemployment
- poverty
- high crime rate
- climate and natural hazards
- racism against: foreigners, legal & illegal
immigrants (especially Hispanics)
- middle & upper-class American
- prejudices
- fear of loss (eg. possessions, safety...)
- feeling of superiority
- states sharing a border to Mexico
- California & Texas
Delaney Mossbacher
- nature lover
- writing articles for a nature magazine
- liberal
- changing attitude towards illegal immigrants
- tolerant -> racist
Kyra Mossbacher
- successful workaholic
- spends much time on work
- takes part in a lot of organizations
- concerned with health, nature, fitness

1. Arroyo Blanco
car accident between Delaney and Candido
Candido don't want help, accepts 20$ -> both go back to normal life
Dog of Delaney and Kyra killed by coyote -> both very upset
América: goes working to earn money, raped by José Navidad
2. El Tenksgeevee
new fence
around Mossbacher's house -> again destroyed by coyote
meeting with Jack -> discussion about building the wall
Delaney's changing attitude
Candido: always looking for jobs
free turkey: fire gets out of control
3. Socorro
Mossbachers at Thanksgiving soiree -> information about the fire -> evacuation
Delaney: sees fault in Mexican's, installing cameras at the wall -> Candido on photos
birth of Soccoro in
a utility shed
Candido seen on the street by Delaney -> wants to call police
running away
sweeping away by a raging river
Socorro gets lost, Candido helps Delaney in the water
- f
writer of books, short stories
- controversi
al issues

- literary awards:
- PEN/Faulkner
- St. Lawrence award
- Prix Médicis Étranger

- readings all over the world

- 2015: publishing the book
"The harder they come"
1. "Arroyo Blanco"
2. "El Tenksgeevee"
3. "Socorro"
7.1 Negative reviews

"I started out liking the story and the author's voice, drawn in by the setting and the rhythm of the narration. The more I read, the less I liked the characters, the story, the narration, and the artificiality of the tale.
To the point that I can say I regret wasting my time reading such a well-written, carefully constructed foolish story.
Have you ever liked a book a little bit less with each page you turned? This one got worse for me the further I read."
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