Illegal Immigration in Novel The Tortilla Curtain

We live in the age where immigration and the immigrants are always talked about. Immigration takes place all over the world, but this essay will focus on the immigration difficulties of the United States of America. Living on the borders of the United States, you’ll more than likely hear about the illegal immigration trouble. T. Coraghessan Boyle’s novel, The Tortilla Curtain, discusses the several topics from hypocrisy, racism and illegal immigrations. The illegal immigrations being the largest topic of the novel.

We see two Mexicans face the adversities of being illegal immigrants, racism and pennilessness. The Tortilla Curtain is often thought of as a powerful satire. Boyle defended his satirically characters by saying “If it’s satire, it has to bite somebody, has to have teeth in it, otherwise it’s useless” (Penguin Group). It makes readers aware of the struggles of poverty in Mexico, the blatant racism of the life of immigrant.

A point worth noting is that the cause for the illegal immigration of Mexicans was due to poverty they face in their home country.

Mexico has some of the most beautiful cities but, their can be little to no opportunities for all the citizens. That’s why people migrate. When it comes to immigration, they say it can be worse than being in your home country. This is a true statement coming from an immigrant. The experience can be different from all depending on how you arrive and why you had to arrive.

My immigrant experience was easy.

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My parents brought me here when I was ten. New vocabulary and culture were simple to pick up for a ten-year-old to a certain extent. They say, “Starting over isn’t hard when you’ve just barely started.” But I felt like I had already started my life at ten. With all my family and childhood friends. My parents’ immigrant experience is another story. I can add my older sister to this category, and she came while in high school. My younger brother and I had time to adjust to the environment.

T.C. Boyle’s argument in the novel is that people have tribulations they face in the life and these tribulations make them who they are. Through Candido and America, Boyle proves his point with how hard it is to thrive in the United States. We see how Candido and America live hard lives and they still have love within them. Delaney, we see him going through miniscule challenges and it cause him to be selfish and ruthless. To the outside Delaney’s troubles are not that big but to him, he has grown up with everything there in his reach. So, when it is taken away, he feels lost. Throughout the novel, Boyle explains how immigrants help the society and are human beings like everyone else but, they live a harder life than most Americans.

Candido observes the traffic and wonders, ‘…what was the hurry, the constant hurry? Making a buck, that’s what. Building their glass office towers and adding up the figures on their dark little TV screens, getting richer—that’s what the hurry was’ (91). Americans—some of them—have a materialistic attachment. The novel shows us how society values inanimate objects more than we value human beings. This is seen when Delaney hits the Candido with his car and is first thought is of his car, is it dented, scratched, it going to ruin his driving record. Taking care of the car seemed more important to him until he remembered that he hit someone. Then he started looking for the victim.

America is thought of a country filed with prosperity and happiness. It symbolizes hope and safety, health. The American Dream as everyone wants to call it. The dream all immigrants are striving to achieve but, the way to the top is hard. The Tortilla Curtain offers insight on the life of a Mexican immigrant. Despite the struggles of life, they still prosper and fight for a better life.

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Illegal Immigration in Novel The Tortilla Curtain. (2021, Apr 26). Retrieved from

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