The coyote is not to blame – he is only trying to survive, to make a living, to take advantage of the opportunities available to him…The coyotes keep coming, breeding up to fill in the gaps, moving in where the living is easy. They are cunning, versatile, hungry and unstoppable.
– From Tortilla Curtain, pages 214-215 –
T.C. Boyle has created a novel about social injustice which is stunning in its simple yet eloquent language. Two couples inhabit the land just outside of the urban jungle of Los Angeles…Kyra and Delaney, wealthy and comfortable within the confines of their gated community, and Candido and America, illegal immigrants struggling to find a better life far from their native Mexico. Boyle crafts these characters carefully, contrasting the vast gulf between the wealthy and the poor.
– From Tortilla Curtain, pages 122-123 –
Boyle’s novel reveals the harsh realities of survival among desperate people. Simple things, like a roof over one’s head or food in one’s belly, become pivot points upon which this story turns. I found myself wondering, what would I be willing to do when faced with wretched circumstances or the simple fact of starvation?
Churning through the novel are questions about the political quagmire of illegal immigration. Boyle deftly reveals the human side to the immigration issues, forcing the reader to grapple with this problem and wonder about the solutions. Might illegal immigration be merely a symptom of a larger, more difficult problem?
When Delaney’s ordered world intersects with Candida’s, the normally liberal minded Delaney is forced to address his own racism.
Boyle uses symbolism skillfully, employing the natural landscape as a backdrop to the conflicts between the characters. The desolate country haunted by wild and evasive coyotes conjures up a world of fear where survival of the fittest becomes the law of the land. At times deeply disturbing, Tortilla Curtain ultimately leaves the reader with a shadow of hope.