The Tortilla Curtain

The Tortilla Curtain Summary and Analysis of Part III, Chapters 7 & 8


At the beginning of chapter seven, Delaney, having spotted Cándido while driving back from the nursery with materials for his garden, intends to turn the Mexican in as a suspect in the vandalism case. However, as Delaney is on the phone with 911, Cándido steps out into the middle of the road, causing a blue truck to swerve first into the guard rails and then into Delaney's Acura, which is obstructing the road. Cándido runs away, and Delaney is left to deal with the people, who give him a ticket for blocking the road with his car. Delaney calls nobody, simply waiting for the tow truck to arrive and, when it does, following the tracks left behind by Cándido's sandals.

Meanwhile, Kyra is on her way to pick up Jordan from a friend's house, having taken the afternoon off in an effort to spend less time working and more time with her family. As she drives through the unfamiliar part of town, listening to her relaxation tapes and sheltered from the rain, she recognizes the area as the new, quickly expanding hotspot and vows to look into it for future business. She is lost and trying to find the house where Jordan is, but the more she drives around the more she falls in love with the rural, calming atmosphere of the area. Soon, she passes a "For Sale By Owner" sign and decides to take a look, even if it means that she will be late to pick up her son. She is shocked to drive into a ten-acre property with a French-style mansion sitting in the middle. Her real estate acumen kicking in and thoughts of high commissions running through her mind, she knocks on the door and introduces herself to the owners.

Back in Topanga Canyon, Delaney is tracking Cándido's footprints, an easy task for a man who has much experience tracking wildlife. As he follows the footprints, he is not surprised to find that they end up in the vicinity of the Arroyo Blanco, immediately assuming that he is responsible for all of the stolen goods and the vandalism. He then wonders if he might be responsible for the fire as well, if maybe the man in the backwards cap (whom Delaney internally describes with the racial slur "wetback") is innocent. After all, he had hit Cándido with his car near where the fire had started. Delaney goes on to think that it would have been better for everyone involved if Cándido had crawled into the bushes and died the day that he hit him. Jim Shirley pulls over and offers him a ride home, which Delaney turns down. As he watches the car drive into Arroyo Blanco, however, he notices that the wall has been vandalized once more with the same hieroglyphic-like symbols and that both trip-wire cameras have been triggered. Excited, he examines the film in the light of the guard booth to make sure that he has caught something and sees that he has.

Before going to the Cherrystones' house to develop the film, Delaney decides to go home to get the gun that Jack Jardine had convinced him to buy several months ago. He had locked it away in his garage, too uncomfortable with it threatening presence to take it out until now. He also decides to eat, to take a warm shower, and to change his clothes. Luckily, Kyra had taken Jordan out for dinner, giving him the privacy to gear himself up for the adventure ahead. He then uses the Cherrystones' spare key to enter their house, assuming that they would not mind his doing so, and develops the film. Much to his surprise, however, it is not Cándido's face he captured but Jack Jr. and an accomplice. This photographic evidence still is not enough to stop Delaney from going after the Mexican - he is convinced that, even if he did not vandalize the walls, he must have stolen the missing items and probably even started the fire. He throws the photographs and the negatives away and takes off, creeping up the ledge where Cándido and América are hiding, using the smell of their fire to guide him to their hut.

Chapter eight opens with Cándido returning to the hut. At the site of his worn, thing body, América begins to cry, though she hides this from her husband. Cándido tells América about Delaney's crazy confrontation, thinking that he tried to hit him again on purpose before calling the police. He wonders how anybody can be so vicious, though América has no trouble believing it, thinking that Delaney sent Jack Jr., whom she thought was Delaney's son, to abuse them after the accident. After Cándido had eaten and warmed himself, América tells him that Socorro really needs a doctor and that she thinks that their baby is blind. When he hastily denies it, she finally admits to him that her pee burned after the attack by the man in the backwards cap and his friend, finally admits that they did more to her than she told him. It is at that moment that Delaney appears in the doorway, clutching the gun in his hand.

Delaney only has a second to glimpse Cándido, América, and Socorro before a flood of water swept away all four people, the hut, and everything inside of it. As everything came crashing down upon him, Cándido curses his bad luck and his miserable life. All he wants is to live a stable life, and yet he ends up with a blind child, a wife who has been raped, and a man with a gun after him. As the river carries him and his family away with an unstoppable force, he suddenly hits a building, which turns out to be the United States Post Office. He and América manage to make it onto the roof of the building, but a chill runs through him when he realizes that Socorro is gone. The pain consumes him beyond the point of comprehension, and yet, when he sees Delaney's white hand grasping for help, he reaches out and takes hold of it.


At this point in the novel, Kyra has decided that she will abandon her workaholic lifestyle. She wants to relax and spend more time with her family, and as a result, she offers to go pick up Jordan from his friends house. However, this declaration will prove to be worthless. Just as she is on the way to pick up Jordan, she sees a For Sale sign, and the realtor in her cannot resist stopping by. What she encounters is a property even bigger than that of the Da Ros place, in a location even better than that of the Da Ros place, inhabited by a house even more ostentatious then the Da Ros place, and it draws her in with a force even stronger than that of the Da Ros place. This property will become Kyra's new American dream, and it simply goes to show that it is nearly impossible for white America to abandon its workaholic, excess-loving lifestyle.

Meanwhile, Cándido and América find out that their own American dream come true, Socorro, is not what she seems. In fact, despite Cándido's attempts to deny it, Socorro is blind, and América knows exactly why. This is the first time that she admits to Cándido that she was indeed raped and that her pee burned immediately after. Thus, José Navidad's character has struck again. He is responsible for marring the Rincóns' dream, for taking away their images of Socorro as a beautiful, budding young woman and replacing them with the fear that she will become a blind, old, lonely maid. Now it is almost completely proven that Cándido's hopes of achieving his American dream will most likely never come true. Almost proven, but not quite yet.

By the time that Delaney confronts Cándido on the side of the road, all traces of liberalism and equality for all are banished from his mind. The sight of Cándido on the side of the road was enough to send him over the edge into complete bigotry, and he calls the police simply because Cándido is there. He does not even attempt to give the poor man the benefit of the doubt - all he wants to see is him suffer, suffer for the stealing of his car, for his ruined hikes, and for the starting of the fire. This confrontation is the climax of the novel because after this, everything changes. It is at this point that we see a completely changed Delaney. He is nothing like the Delaney who hit Cándido with his car at the beginning of the story, not even leading his same structured life anymore, and the change can be traced back to all of the bad luck that Delaney has had. However, the reason that this luck has changed him so is because he chose to blame immigrants instead of luck.

A crazed, obsessed Delaney decides to track Cándido back to his hideout, for what reason Delaney does not even know, when he spots the newly vandalized wall. Elated because he thinks that he finally has photographic evidence of a Mexican committing a crime, he goes home to retrieve the gun he was previously too scared to use and then breaks into the Cherrystones' home to develop the film on the cameras. Note that this makes him worse than Cándido, who swore to himself that he would never break into a man's home, even at his lowest point. However, when he finds Jack Jr. on the film, Delaney chooses to destroy the evidence and to go after the Mexican anyway, a true testament to his now blatantly undemocratic values. He receives the shock of his life, however, when he sees that Cándido has a wife and child - whether it will be enough of a shock to bring him back to his senses, readers will never know.

The mudslide is the pinnacle of Cándido's bad luck, the final proof that Cándido is never meant to succeed. He is hunted by a man with a gun, and then he and his family are swept away. His daughter is lost, and he feels a grief from which he may never recover - how many times must a man fall before he is not able to get back up again? And yet, from the depths of his despair, he reaches out to help the man who was so hateful towards him, who started this terrible chain of events by hitting him with his car. This is the close of the novel, and readers are left to wonder what will happen next and whether Cándido's act of charity will be enough to send him and América some charity and good luck. Boyle has not presented a solution to the problem, simply hoping to use the novel to provide an unbiased look at the immigration problem. It is now up to the reader to take in this story, a more personal, emotional perspective, and to think for themselves what the proper channels of action should be.