Whiteness and Race in "The Tortilla Curtain" Analytical Essay by Jay Writtings LLC

An in-depth analysis of T. Coraghessan Boyle's "The Tortilla Curtain"'s treatment of the boundaried, segregated worlds of suburban America.
# 117727 | 2,621 words | 8 sources | MLA | 2009 | US

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The paper illustrates how Boyle's narrative, "The Tortilla Curtain", breaks down the geography of race by personalizing the conflicts that occur from the repeated encounters between two couples; Delaney and Kyra Mossbacher, a white couple, and Candido and America Rincon, an immigrant couple. The paper describes the Mossbachers' white enclave of Arroyo Blanco as the idealized and densely boundaried world of the American dream. The paper highlights how Boyle consistently represents his white characters as requiring a sense of control over their own bodies and their self-contained "white" environment that is seen as under attack from the Mexican immigrants. The paper notes the irony that these same immigrants are eventually hired as the laborers to construct a wall that is designed to exclude them and also analyzes the fire as a natural and ultimate threat to a community that was almost paranoiac in its protection of space and building of walls.

From the Paper:

"First published in 1992, The Tortilla Curtain is T. Coraghesan Boyle's ambitious attempt to map the destructive though neatly hidden tensions between upper-middle-class Southern Californians and the illegal Mexican immigrants flooding into the Los Angeles area, most often through well-organized (and extremely dangerous) "holes" along the under-patrolled border south of San Diego. Like Paul Haggis's recent film Crash (2004), Boyle's novel explores the geocultural assumptions territoriality (that is, the ownership of place and space) as they come to intersect with the dominant pseudo-liberal politics informing the (in)tolerances within a racially-diverse community that tends to collapse the conditions of racial or ethnic "otherness" into an easily imaginable collective identity. Put another way, this is a novel that explores characters who attempt to contain the concept of otherness into a knowable schema that ultimately allows the characters to deal with racial differences by considering them normal or part of the landscape both literally and metaphorically."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Babb, Valerie. Whiteness Visible: The Meaning of Whiteness in American Literature andCulture. New York: New York UP, 1988.
  • Boyle, T.C. The Tortilla Curtain. New York: Penguin, 1992.
  • Hicks, Heather. "On Whiteness in T. Coraghessan Boyle's The Tortilla Curtain." Critique 45.2(2003): 43-64.
  • Hill, Mike, ed. Whiteness: A Critical Reader. New York: New York UP, 1997.
  • Kaplan, A., & Pease, D.E., eds. Cultures of United States Imperialism. Durham: Duke UP, 1993.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Whiteness and Race in "The Tortilla Curtain" (2009, December 17) Retrieved July 06, 2020, from https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/whiteness-and-race-in-the-tortilla-curtain-117727/

MLA Format

"Whiteness and Race in "The Tortilla Curtain"" 17 December 2009. Web. 06 July. 2020. <https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/whiteness-and-race-in-the-tortilla-curtain-117727/>