Nature in the Tortilla Curtain

Nature in the Tortilla Curtain

  • Submitted By: selabear
  • Date Submitted: 12/18/2010 9:03 PM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 2536
  • Page: 11
  • Views: 911

In The Tortilla Curtain, T.C. Boyle’s strong use of symbolism through nature and wildlife significantly reflects and portrays both the similarities and differences of the characters, their lifestyles and the conflicts between two worlds. Throughout the novel, the author uses the setting of Topanga Canyon, the native coyote, as well as other key natural elements to illustrate the experience and emotions of the main characters as they struggle to coexist in an ever-conflicting modern relationship.

The story begins in Southern California's Topanga Canyon; two couples live in close proximity and yet are worlds apart. High atop a hill overlooking the canyon, nature writer Delaney Mossbacher and his wife, real estate agent Kyra Mossbacher, reside in an exclusive, secluded housing development called “Arroyo Blanco.” When broken down in spanish, Arroyo means “river” or “creek bed,” which makes sense as the canyon below consists of entwining creeks and rivers. However, blanco in Spanish means “white,” thus setting the scene for the racial satire that coats the entire novel. Arroyo Blanco is the wealthy gated area in which the typical “white perfect families” reside, surrounded but blocked off by the wildlife and nature of Topanga Canyon. Opposite the Mossbachers, are America and Candido Rincon; two illegal immigrants struggling to make an existence for themselves miles deep, hidden away within the canyon. With little food, shelter, and absolutely no money, the Rincons lives contrast with the Mossbachers drastically and yet, the two couples share the same space. Two worlds, one canyon, and a beautifully written novel illustrating an extremely complicated and diverse relationship between the Mossbachers and the Rincons.

T.C. Boyle uses the setting of Topanga Canyon as the home to both families of conflicting stature and worth. The Canyon to Delaney and Kyra is nature at it’s finest. It is to them, a dream home away from the city and allows them an ideal freedom...

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