American novelist, T. C. Boyle in his novel, The Tortilla Curtain has elaborated the American dream by portraying the life of two couples, their ambitions, and dreams. Author elaborates the American dream in a remarkable way in this novel and lets the readers know that it is nothing but the materialism which is illusionary. Covering several aspects of human life, He further discusses a number of issues related to the illegal immigration by Mexicans into American territory. Further he discusses tragic aspects of the issue and also talks about a number of problems that Mexicans face in the US. This paper intends to discuss the book, Tortilla Curtain, talks about the American dream and further probes several related aspects.
The story revolves around América Rincón, Cándido Rincón, Delaney Mossbacher, Kyra Mossbacher and their child Jordan mossbacher. América Rincón is a young Mexican girl who lives in Mexico with her big family. She marries Cándido Rincón whose ambition is to settle in America to live a good life with his family. In search of their dreams, they illegally crossed the American Mexican border and entered into America. Situation does not turn out as per their expectations and they stay poor in America. They do neither get any job nor do find any place to stay, their situation becomes grimmer and their dreams are completely shattered. Their expectations and dreams are termed as American dream by the author in the novel which has been elaborated and is a main component of the novel. On the other hand, the author portrays Delaney mossbacher and Kyra mossbacher an American couple who is enjoying all the amenities which is a dream for Mexicans like América and Cándido Rincón. They live in Los angels and lead a modern lifestyle which is rarely available for maximum Mexicans. Delaney is a writer who at the beginning of the story hits Cándido Rincón with his car but none of them wants police to interfere. Delaney Cándido does not want to be thrown from America since he has illegally immigrated to America while Delaney does not want to face legal complexities. Delaney gives him $ 20 and both lead their way. Delaney’s wife Kyra is a real estate agent and earns good money. She is also very ambitious and wants to own a very big house. Kyra like other Americans hates Mexican immigrants as she considers them as nuisance creators and people who illegally occupy resources which are meant for American. Her six years old child Jordan remains busy in playing video games. This family is also disturbed when Cándido accidentally sets the neighborhood on fire.
Boyle has portrayed the dreams of American as well as a Mexican couple in his novel and also discusses the differences in their expectations which are mainly based on their circumstances. América Rincón and Cándido Rincón hail from Mexico. They are from poor backgrounds and also have a lot of liabilities towards their families. They want to secure their future by earning money. Their expectation is not very big but they want a house, a job and a decent living on American soil. Since these common and very basic facilities are also not available in Mexico, they consider these things as their dream which can be fulfilled in America only. The things did not turn out as they expected and the situation became horrible when Cándido was hit by Delany’s car. He was not in a condition to work hard and this lead him towards a situation of starvation. His wife was raped by some anti social elements and gave birth to a blind child. There was not a single positive thing for the Rincón couple in America. They were desperate and their dreams were shattered. Cándido says “White faces, high heels business suits, the greedy eyes, and ravenous mouths. They lived in their glass palaces, with their gates and fences and security systems, they left half-eaten lobsters and beefsteaks on their plates when the rest of the world was starving, spent enough to feed and clothe an entire country on their exercise equipment, their swimming pools, and tennis courts, jogging shoes, and all of them even the poorest had two cars. Where was the justice in that? (Boyle, 200). The author has portrayed the difference in the dreams of Mexican and American couple in a symbolic way.
On the other hand, Delaney and Kyra, being an American have different expectations and dreams for their life. Kyra and Delaney have everything and even more which is like a dream for América and Cándido Rincón but they also are not satisfied. American couple earns good amount and have enough free time to enjoy their life. They are not compelled to work as their counterpart Mexican couple. Having so much also does not give them any satisfaction. They expect bigger house, more amenities for them and their materialistic hunger is growing day by day. Kyra wants a huge mansion, Da Ros place for this nuclear family which can accommodate hundreds of people. Their problems are completely different from the Mexican family. The author portrays how dissatisfied they are even when they have a lot more than the Mexican couple, América and Cándido Rincón. Their dreams and expectations are bigger and perhaps very difficult to accomplish as they seem to be endless.
American dream as per author is to achieve a lot of materialistic gains or desired amenities by working or through one’s skills. General notion and the biggest reason of legal and illegal immigration into America is that America is full of opportunities. People think that like others any one can achieve what he wants. In this novel American dream has been portrayed by the author in a significant way and perhaps he has come up with a finding that the American dream is an illusion. All the materialistic gains are illusionary and at the end of the day even if one succeeds in achieving his or her dreams, it does not assure happiness. The end and finding of the novel are very philosophical and full of massages. It has been proved in the instances of American and Mexican couples. Mexican couple struggled to achieve the things that American couples already have with them but even then they were not satisfied and were expecting more. The Author says that there is no limit of the desire and another rises as soon as one gets fulfilled. Author portrays that though American dream is illusionary but people keep trying to achieve their dreams. Boyle also suggests that definition of the American dream is different for different people. Two different examples have been given in the novel by the author and their definitions of the American dream are quite different. They work hard and even do not hesitate to commit wrongs. This has been depicted by the author in case of América and Cándido Rincón. They illegally entered into US which amounts to be a crime and América also stolen fruits and other things when she had no any other option. They faced the situation of starvation but achieving their dream was so important for them that they even did not care about some critical problems that came in their way. Cándido met with an accident, he did not get a good job, the couple was not having any shelter, América was raped, Cándido was robbed, their camp was destroyed by the kids just for fun, their kid was born blind but they kept struggling for their dreams which turned out to be an illusion at the end of the novel. The Author has brought forward the realities behind dreams and also suggests that how people pay prices for everything that they achieve or want to achieve.
Along with the American dream, the author portrays several other practical aspects of human life and behavior. Tortilla curtain is also a popular term used for the American Mexican border, this 600 kilometer fence intends to prevent the Mexicans from entering into the United States of America. Since the story is based on the issue of illegal immigration, the author also depicts several issues related to the immigration and immigrants. How Americans treat these illegally entered immigrants and what they think about them. Author has portrayed the mindset of a common American through the treatment of Kyra who considers them as unwanted and nuisance creators. Like Kyra, most American thinks that the immigrants are nuisance for their nation. Americans think that immigrants live on their taxes and since they are ready to work on very low wages, they also occupy their job opportunities. They are also considered danger to the nation. Author has portrayed the issue of immigration in a very dramatic and tragic manner in front of readers. Author on the other hand also highlights the sufferings that illegal immigrants face when they enter into US. They face racial discriminations, work at nominal wages and also face several other problems by law implementing agencies as well as goons. The irony is that nobody comes to help these people when they are suffered in the hands of goons since they are not legal inhabitants of United States of America. In a tragic incident when Cándido was hit by Delaney’s car, he preferred taking just $ 20 instead of calling the cops or suing Delaney for the accident (Boyle).
After having observed the above mentioned analysis of the book, American dream and other related aspects, it is good to conclude that author has elaborated American dream, illegal immigration, racism, human behavior, life and other issues in a very significant manner. Author has brought some very interesting and new things about the human behavior and life. The analysis and finding about the American dream is full of massage. Author has portrayed the practical aspect of materialistic world. He depicts how people run after the materialistic things considering them the real pleasure and gain but at the end of the day they come to realize that they are left with illusionary things only.
Boyle, T.C. The Tortilla Curtain. London: Bloomsbury, 2011.