The Tortilla Curtain

Satire in Tortilla Curtain

The issue of immigration and American attitudes towards it are the object of satire in T.C Boyle's novel ‘Tortilla Curtain’. Boyle uses sarcasm to attack what he sees as the self-obsessed nature of middle-class America and their naïve view of the world. He laments the extent to which the United States seems out of touch with problems in the rest of the world. The author's use of irony depicts a breakdown of human society fuelled by fear and jealous materialism, but the continuing interdependence of human beings is also portrayed throughout the novel.

The self-absorbed nature of modern American society is depicted through Boyle's use of sarcasm. The character Celaney, who epitomises liberal middle-America, magnifies his own problems out of proportion. This can be seen in the tone of disbelief when Delaney, a “liberal humanist with... a freshly waxed Japanese car...” (p1) hits a Mexican. The tone turns to one annoyance as he asks: “Why did this have to happen to him?” (p6). Boyle's sarcastic tone when describing Delanye's troubles clearly shows how Delaney bemoans his own problems whilst ignoring that of the Mexican.

'Tortilla Curtain' depicts American society as desiring a secure view of the world. On...

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