The Tortilla Curtain

The Tortilla Curtain:

Chapter 1

Delaney Mossbacher, a wealthy white American, is driving a canyon road when he hits a Mexican immigrant. The Mexican flips over the car, cuts his face, hurts one part of his upper body and finally lands in the nearby shrub. Neither Delaney nor the Mexican want the accident to be reported. Both men are deeply shocked, Delaney due to his fear, the Mexican because of his injuries. Mr. Mossbacher literally welcomes the immigrant’s requests for some money and slips 20 dollars into his jacket.

Delaney quickly found out that the man was Mexican because he had a typical moustache and he spoke Spanish. When the white man suggested a doctor, he said he would refuse any treatment.
For Delaney, this reaction was crazy, so he assumed that he must be illegal.

Chapter 2

America is Candido's wife, and she loves him very much. When she discovers his injuries with disbelief she instantaneously takes care of his wounds. She knows exactly that he won’t be able to work and earn money for them anymore and as a brave girl she plans to work herself. But Candido wants to forbid it suppressing the thought that there is no other way out. He remembers the time when he rescued her from Tijuana, when he took her away from her family and promised her a better life in The States.

Chapter 3

The Arroyo Blanco Estates is stationed high up the canyon, nestled in a fan - shaped depression dug out of the side of the western ridge by a stream. They are a private community comprising a golf course, several tennis courts, a community center and 250 homes. All of these houses are built in the Spanish Mission style painted in a shade of white with orange roofs. They all have to look same for this is the odd about Arroyo Blanco Estates.

Sacheverell, one of Delaney’s two dogs, was playing in the garden while the family was in the house. They heard the unbearable yelp of the dog, when they found him in the jaws of a coyote.
The coyote had jumped over the 6 feet fence, grabbed Sacheverell, jumped back again and disappeared in the woods. Delaney’s attempts to follow the coyote finally ended up with beating methodically into the bush with a stick.

In the community center is a special session dealing with the prolonged issue of a gated entrance. There had been several robberies in the neighborhood and many of the community members are willing to construct a gate. Some argue that there are already enough expenses; others say that The Arroyo Blanco Estates suppose to be open for poor and rich and that was the reason why they moved there.
Jack Jardine, the president, is frustrated for the crime was committed in his area. He stubbornly tries to convince the other members.

Chapter IV:
Reading for detail:

    Labor exchange is a place where either illegal immigrants or legal citizens gather, hoping for some "gringo" to stop by. Few of the jobless will get some badly paid work for a day.

    Candido is worried because of several reasons. First, he knows that if AmĂ©rica gets a job, she won’t return before dawn. But otherwise, if she doesn’t - which he would prefer - they don’t earn any money and have to starve.
    Additionally, he is aware that there are a lot of pervert "gringos", who could be dangerous to her. Moreover, she hasn’t got any English knowledge to ask for help or to inform her. (which bus to take to go to...)

    He demands where she was, which indicates his worry. He suffered a lot that night and morning while he was waiting for her.
    But finally he knows that it is not right to be so aggressive because he is aware that she is their only hope.

    She has to arrive the labor exchange first in order to get a job first. She secretively slips up from the blanket. She doesn’t want to wake up Candido for he will be worried and cannot sleep if he notices her. But sleep is what he needs most at his condition.

Chapter V:

The lack of streetlights in Arroyo Blanco is the speciality of it, one of the attractions. Arroyo Blanco was constructed not only to live in a high standard but also to have a rural feel, to have a sense that you are separated from the city and wedded to the mountains.

At the meeting Delaney was so self - confident that the gate was something totally wrong. He didn’t want to vote for a gate because for him Arroyo Blanco ought to be a community where anybody can walk in and out whenever he or she wanted. He is a fundamental liberalist and believed in liberty for everybody.
However, when he first experiences this incident, the black car slowly passing, he starts to consider about a gate. He feels suddenly unprotected. Delaney chews over that a gate will save him from such bizarre happenings in future.

Kyra and Delaney have a lot in common, not only temperamentally, but also in terms of their beliefs and ideals too. That is what attracted them to each other. They are both perfectionists. Both jog, are non - smokers and nutrition - conscious. Delaney writes his monthly column in a nature magazine. Kyra works as a realtor.
But they have also some differences caused by their work. Delaney enjoys his time imaging and fascinating about nature. He is a relaxed person, hardly in serious stress, which is just the quality of Kyra. She is very calculating and very attached to her job. Kyra represents the typical career woman.

Chapter VI
On his way up the hill Candido meets a strange - looking man. He is tall - appears even taller due to the slope -, wears a baseball cap turned backwards and has indescribably red and yellow eyes. Although the stranger speaks Mexican and should be more trustful than a "gabacho" Candido’s first reaction is suspicion. The stranger is paying special attention on Candido’s injuries.
He asks Candido if he is camping down by the river, which makes Candido very much concerned. He doesn’t want anybody else to find AmĂ©rica’s and his place for there will be the rest of the labor exchange soon. Therefore he lies he is leaving but obviously without much success.

AmĂ©rica’s first job is a rather senseless one. She has to scrub a bunch of Buddha statues. It is a hard job but she gives her best or even more than that. She works even 2 hours more than the settled 6 hours. Her employer is an overweight man who engaged her and Mary, a drunk American woman. He locked them both into a room where all the Buddhas were standing. With frustration she has to watch her coworker doing almost nothing. When her "patron" drives them both back she discovers that Mary is paid the full 8 hours’ work, whereas she only got her promised 25 $.

Chapter 7

    Jack’s opinion is that times have changed. He believes that there are far too many immigrants - legal ones already. He thinks that those legal ones are skilled, have money and education. However, for him the AmĂ©ricans are "endangered" by the illegal Mexicans who allegedly steal, rob or murder and terrorize the whole society. When Delaney counters that Jack’s attitude is racist, he calls it rather a matter of national sovereignty.
    For Jack, getting the control of the borders is the only way to escape from their "miserable" situation.
    Delaney shows his liberalism. He knows that there aren’t any "AmĂ©ricans" but they all immigrated once from somewhere else. Delaney doesn’t want to accept Jack’s racist points of views to be true! And that for a good reason. He believes in freedom for everybody to go wherever he or she wants to.
    Jack continuously attempts to convince him by listing various statistics, but which has no influence on Delaney at first.
    Jack wants to break Delaney’s objective attitude towards immigrants. By referring to his accident, Jack prompts his emotions. He also wants to indicate that the whole affair should also concern him, in a private way. It’s not only "the other people" whom they are talking about.
    When the three of them return back to the parking lots in front of the supermarket, they witness a rather little fight between a fat - faced trucker and a totally disfigured Mexican. The Mexican finally gets thrown back to Delaney’s rear end of the car.
    Delaney and Jack approached the car and watch how the Mexican slowly sneaks away. Delaney unfortunately identifies the man as his former "nightmare", and Jack seizes the opportunity and compares that incident with what he talked about (control of the borders).
    Delaney tries to relax from all the trouble and tension around him by hiking in the near woods. Thereby he discovers garbage and dirt on the earth. He is very shaken and shocked, and finally turns angry.
    After a while he hears two voices which come closer and closer. They are the voices of two Mexicans. When the men and Delaney meet, he is somehow anxious. He heard a lot about various crimes in the woods. The situation is greatly tightening. It is small talk, the Mexican indicating that he supposes to hike with his friend too.
    Even after Delaney decides to return and disengages from them, he feels very uncomfortable.
    When Delaney returns and enters the street where he parked his car he is frozen. His car disappeared. He conceives that he must have parked it somewhere else, but he hadn’t.
    He asks the Hispanic workers around but they don’t speak any English. Desperately he calls the police and the towing service but they haven’t got his car either. At last, he accepts the fact that his car was stolen.

Chapter 8

    América has a job. She knows that this job is hard and badly paid but if they always save some her money, they could afford a little apartment soon. She is considering this while they are on their way "home", after having bought some eggs and meat. Food makes them feel hopeful.
    She is scrubbing the Buddha statues when she realizes that she isn’t using any gloves. Those gloves are very essential because she is polishing the figures with toxic chemicals. They harm on her hands and also her whole respiratory system.
    Although she keeps on working under these dangerous conditions in fear of losing her job, she gives up later and calls her patron, who angrily provides her with gloves.
    Her respiratory passages become raw and abraded. There is a sharp - stinging sensation round the cuticles of her nails and the skin of her hands appears pale and lifeless. The chemical gas stings in her eyes causing them to water, and later on she feels light - headed.
    As she feels tired and wasted she decides to go back to their camp on her own. On the path through the wood she meets the Latino with the cap turned backwards with and Indian guy.
    There is no conversation - she starts running back where she can cry for help, however, she has no chance. They catch her, tear her only dress apart and rape her brutally.

Part II

    Kyra is furious when she notices the Afghan locked up in a car. She cannot believe
that somebody is capable of doing such a thing. She searches everywhere for that criminal, asks in the restaurant and finally she finds him at the car again. She rushes towards him and blame him - rather than asking - why he locks up the dog in the heat. Kyra also explains that there are laws that forbid that, and his dog could have been taken away from him. The rather annoyed man swears and drives off. Delaney is just speechless.

    When Kyra enters the Da Roses’ estate she finds a shopping cart. She is suspicious but walks on to the house for her regular check. Then she realizes two Mexicans in the garden. She rushes to them, ordering them to leave the private property instantly. However, she feels very uncomfortable at the sight of one of the intruders, the man with the baseball cap turned backwards, wary of her being in great danger.
    She lies that her husband and she own that place and he and her brother are inside. The man hesitates unbelievingly, but finally doesn’t want to take a risk and replies that he has been hiking and got lost.

Chapter 2

    Cándido was working in potato fields, sending his salary to his first wife Resurrección, who is the older sister of his present wife América. He experienced a lot, from working in Oregon to fleeing from La Migra and crossing eight lanes of freeway. When he returned to Tijuana, he found Resurrección betraying him. Eventually he found América whom he promised a better life in The States and took her with him. He was illegally working in The States when the Immigration control snatched him up. Cándido found himself standing in a row of Mexicans, one by one checked by the police. Suddenly he dashed off, eventually ending beside an eight - lane freeway. When La Migra drew near he rushed across the lanes safely. Two youngsters who fled with him died at that point.
    Cándido didn’t let AmĂ©rica go to the labour exchange anymore because of two aspects. First, she is pregnant and she ought to avoid any unnecessary strains, which could eventually be harmful to her or to the baby. Secondly, as Cándido was certain that the men hadn’t only robbed her, he decided that it would be too dangerous to go to work anymore.
    América was alone and she felt deeply depressed. The incident with the Mexican (rape) still stuck deep in her. Her body felt strange since then, and she was clueless. She desired to see her mother, her aunts or her sisters, actually any woman whom she knew.
    Cándido was fed up. Fed up with the gringo world. He had lost his job, because the guy for whom he was a short - term substitute returned from his illness.

Chapter 3

    Kyra explains to him that the Mexicans near the shop are increasing and that made her call the Immigration to check them. However, the last time she drove there the whole area was deserted. She knows that Delaney is very sensitive in that case. As an excuse she says that she isn’t proud of her acting and she had no other choice.
    Dominick Flood appears to be a wealthy man around sixty. He is dressed very casual at the "social gathering". There is a confusing device on his ankle, which Delaney cannot identify at first.
    It is a device from the L.A. County Monitoring Service. Instead of being in jail he has this device strapped around his ankle in order to locate him anywhere. The Council gave him 150 - foot radius to move. Whenever he exceeds that, the police will be informed and will arrest him.
    The true purpose of the gathering was to discuss the construction of a wall around the Estates. Delaney accidentally found that out by a joke.
    Jim Shirley supposed to be the one who should influence the guest’s minds. He described different happenings, robbers, all caused by Mexicans.
    Osbert, Delaney’s second dog, had the same fate like Sacheverall. Even although the Mossbachers increased the height of the fence from 6 to 8 feet, a coyote climbed up, grabbed Osbert and flew with his prey.
Chapter 4

    When Cándido went to the labour exchange he found it deserted. Candelario Perez, whom he met there, told him that La Migra is going to make a sweep that morning and that the labour exchange is closed.
    That meant to him that he was lost. No work meant no life. He was frustrated and angry not knowing what to do. He thought of getting a job near the Canoga Park.
    She knows that they have to move. When Cándido explains to her that he intends to go alone, she gets furious. América cannot stand the filth, all the rubbish and the dirty water around her anymore. She decides to stay not even one day.
    AmĂ©rica hopes to find an apartment, some place - and if it happens to be a motel for only one night - where she could take a shower and sleep in a bed. Her dreams of a happy living haven’t been shattered yet.
    Their trip is very hard. AmĂ©rica soon finds out that she has overestimated herself. She gets tired very often and for she stayed at their camp for a long time she isn’t used to walk longer periods.
    Cándido knew that her situation would exacerbate if she came with him. Still, he encourages her much. The closer they came to the city the more often América is attracted of shops, especially a furniture shop where she finds beds and couches.

Chapter 5

    Delaney writes about the coyote, seen as a predator, who has ideally suited to its environment. Whatever human being attempts to cease coyotes of taking pets or even babies, they will assimilate. But do we have the right to banish them? We, the Homo sapiens, invaded their territory, so why should we be surprised if they invade ours? After Delaney lost his last dog Osbert, he perceived that the coyotes are unstoppable. As a liberal naturalist he doesn’t abhor them, for he is conscious that they are animals like any other, trying to survive. The only chance for the human race to avoid any tragic confrontations is to protect him. Keep children and pets inside the house out of the coyote’s range.

Part 3

1. America is ready to deliver the baby. They are lying in a clump of bushes up the rim of the canyon and Candido knows that he has to find another place. Eventually, America gets thirsty and desires something to drink. He leaves, assuring her to find help. Somehow he is relieved to distance himself from this critical situation but still he is aware that he can't go too far or he will lose her. She decides to go only 200 feet away from her.

2. Usually, a midwife is a woman who helps to deliver babies. In this case, America chooses the little Siamese cat as her midwife. She should represent a psychological support.

Chapter 3

A) The two Mexicans happened to be those who raped America. One of them is the guy with the baseball cap turned backwards. They're forced to lie underground for they were suspected to have commenced the fire. The two policemen were arresting them.
B) There are at least two reasons why Delaney feels a thrill of triumph and hate. First, he recently had a quarrel with Kyra, so he's depressive and feels misunderstood, finally angry at the whole world. At this point, he's able to put off his steam. The other reason is that Jack gave him hard liquor to drink, which causes more intense emotions, lust as well as aggression.

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