Daniel Mesick, Principal
740 Rose Ave. W, St Paul, MN 55117
(651) 293-8800 | Get Directions
2. The novel is forged on the cultural, social, and financialdifferences between the Mossbachers and the Rincons. It alternates between thetwo couples' points of view, allowing the reader to enter the lives of bothfamilies. Do you feel that you got to know each of the couples equally well?Was the author fair in his portrayal of each of the couples?
3. Candido and Americacrossed the border in search of a better life for themselves and their unbornchild. They do not ask for much and are willing to work hard, yet they areconstantly met with resistance and failure. There are numerous references to Candido'sbad luck. Is he unlucky? Is there anything he could have done to have changedhis luck? What does this story say about the American dream? 4. The symbol of the coyote appears throughout the novel and representsillegal Mexican immigrants. In his nature column, Delaney writes, "Thecoyote is not to blame--he is only trying to survive, to make a living, to takeadvantage of the opportunities available to him." He concludes the samecolumn by writing, "The coyotes keep coming, breeding up to fill in thegaps, moving in where the living is easy. They are cunning, versatile, hungry andunstoppable." How do these passages reflect Delaney's mixed feelings aboutillegal immigrants? Is he a hypocrite?
5. Boundaries--both real and imagined--play a large role in the novel,especially the front gate at Arroyo Blanco Estates. In what other instances doboundaries appear and what do they represent? What roles do the differentcharacters play in constructing these boundaries? 6. In a recent interview Boyle stated, "If it's satire, it has tobite somebody, has to have teeth in it, otherwise it's useless." How doessatire affect The Tortilla Curtainand the telling of the story? Is it a successful technique? 7. The novel concludes with Delaney confronting Candido with a gun,followed by a mud slide. In an almost simultaneous moment, Candido realizes hisbaby is missing and reaches down to offer Delaney a hand. One is a frighteningimage and the other an act of generosity. How do these contrasting images playoff one another? Did the conclusion leave you with a feeling of hope ordespair? 8. During an argument with Jack Jardine, Delaney makes the followingstatement: "Do you realize what you're saying? Immigrants are thelifeblood of this country--and neither of us would be standing here today if itwasn't." In another instance, Jack says to Delaney, "What do youexpect, when all you bleeding hearts want to invite the whole world in here tofeed at our trough without a thought as to who's going to pay for it, as if theAmerican taxpayer was like Jesus Christ with his loaves and fishes." Howdo these two sentiments play out in the novel and in the larger issue ofimmigration? 9. As the novel progresses, Delaney's humanistic beliefs give way toracism and resentment, and he directs his rage at all illegal immigrants ontoCandido. When confronted with evidence that Candido is not the vandal at ArroyoBlanco, he destroys it. Why does Delaney need to believe that the vandal isCandido? How does Delaney evolve from being a "liberal humanist" to aracist?10. What do you think T.C. Boyle wants to tell us with this book?
Did they agree or disagree? How did theirimpressions of the book differ? What element of each idea was particularlyfitting or completely wrong?
Daniel Mesick, Principal | 740 Rose Ave W, St Paul, MN 55117 | (651) 293-8800 | Get Directions
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