The Tortilla Curtain

Breaking the Tortilla Curtain 11th Grade

In T.C Boyle’s novel The Tortilla Curtain, the author offers a distorted lens to highlight the differences between two couples from separate cultures brought together through a series of unfortunate events. Candido and America Rincon are illegal immigrants from Tepoztlan, Mexico, and come into contact with Delaney and Kyra Mossbacher, an upper-middle-class couple from Southern California. Social and physical boundaries play a large role in this novel as Boyle unveils the clashes between a typical white 'American' family and their lower-class Mexican neighbors. Thus, through irony and visible and invisible boundaries, Boyle pokes fun at the American dream and, in doing so, reveals these characters' true identity.

Boyle creates visible boundaries in the novel by in his description of Arryoo Blanco, the vivid community where the Mossbachers live. Although the residents of Arroyo Blanco, which means 'white creek' in Spanish, are mostly non-Hispanic Americans, they appropriate Mexican culture by building houses in the “Spanish mission style, painted in one of the three prescribed shades of white, with orange tile roofs”. On the lower edge of Arroyo Blanco is low-income housing where many illegal immigrants from...

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