Essay On Tortilla Curtain

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There are two problems with Boyle's approach, one structural, the other ideological.

Structurally, satire with it's dependence on exaggeration and caricature requires one of two things; either that the author be sympathetic to all of his characters or to none.

The one thing that the author can not do, but which Boyle does do here, is to establish a dichotomy where some characters are satirized viciously, while others are nearly canonized.

This imbalance leads to what must surely be an unintended consequence, since the "bad" people can't really be that bad and the "good" people can't really be that good, the reader ends up feeling empathy for the wrong characters.

Boiled down to its essentials, the novel portrays the fabulous comfort of the Mossbachers and their neighbors, while poking fun at their anxieties.

They are contrasted with the achingly noble Rincons and the myriad degradations they suffer while searching for a better life in America.In the end there is only one message of this book that I can wholeheartedly endorse: regardless of whether you are rich or poor, Southern California is simply a godawful place to live.Twenty-four years ago, in between revolutions, I spent a week in El Salvador.Finally, though Boyle is especially dismissive of this argument, it is troubling that America has lost control of its own borders.The inability to stem the flow of illegals across the Mexican border is nearly as alarming as our abject failure to stop the traffic of illegal drugs into the country.Lastly, the final scene of the book (read no farther if you don't want to know what happens), wherein Candido loses his own child but saves the life of Delaney is a metaphorical lie.The obvious implications are that immigrants lives are destroyed even as the Anglos lives depend upon them. Immigrants come here, and they do continue to come, because their lives will be materially better, no matter how difficult the adjustment period may be.This begins a slide--featuring stolen cars, house pets eaten by coyotes, vandalism, wildfires, and so on--which eventually turns Delaney into a leaden parody of a gun toting right wing extremist.Meanwhile, the Rincons have visited upon them a series of near Biblical plagues--rape, fire, blindness, near slavery, flood, slaughter of the first born, and so on; at one point Boyle even compares them to Job, just in case we've missed the point.Although I believe that the benefits of immigration outweigh them, I'd concede that each of these points is valid. Just as bad as his ham-handed presentation of this complex issue is his complete misunderstanding of the immigrant experience.It is of course true that immigrants have a hard time in their new countries. Four hundred years ago, white settlers were frequently slaughtered by Indians.


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