In the socially narrated novel, The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle, two couples from very different societies, races, cultures, and classes are forced together by an unlucky set of events. Candido and America Rincon who are illegal immigrants from Tepoztlan, Mexico have their accounts paralleled with the Mossbacher’s, Delaney and Kyra, a couple from the middle to upper class of Southern California. From the narrative of each person, you get a view into their world, what they had to do to get where they are now, and mostly, what their goals and hopes are in terms of their American Dream.
Delaney Mossbacher is the democratic environmentalist who writes a column in a magazine about the great outdoors. Throughout the novel, the theme for him seems to be getting back to your roots, staying in touch with nature, and to keep free from the bars society at large tries to place on you as an individual. This would be his American Dream. In many passages he recalls growing up at home where there was endless playing room and that’s where he had discovered the natural wonders of the world (pg. 41-42). After much debating and toil though, his community started to fence him in, first with a gate, then with large brick walls.
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- Voice and Grammar
A statement made by another member of his community that Delaney fully agrees with is:If we’d wanted gated communities we would have moved to Hidden Hills or Westlake, but we didn’t. We wanted an open community, freedom to come and go- and not just for anyone- any citizen- rich or poor (pg. 43).This exemplifies Delaney’s American Dream, he wants to live in a world where class, race, and social status don’t matter, but the amount of control he has over such things has long been out of his hands. He wishes he could do something about it, but in this world he has found that majority rules, and it’s not worth warring about for your insignificant cause (pg. 227).
In the case of Kyra Menaker-Mossbacher, her American Dream is a little different. She is the main breadwinner of the family, and loves the job she does. She has already accomplished her goal of top seller at Mike Bender Reality, but some day wishes to open up her own agency from the comfort of her home. Her ideas of life bliss don’t involve closer ties to nature, yet she understand the problems she has in her life seem trivial compared to those of the rest of the world. In a passage she has self realization:She looked round her and it was as if she were waking then, for just a moment, standing there in the tiled drive of Patricia Da Ros’s huge wheeling ark of a house, that she caught a glimpse of her own end, laid to rest in short skirt, heels and tailored jacket, a sheaf o escrow papers clutched in her hand (pg. 75).
At this point, Kyra has a momentary view into what makes life worth living, having love, food, and shelter, and that making the most money, or the best deal isn’t it, but it’s just that, momentary. Her idea of the American dream is to have clean streets, clean of anything that will lessen the sale price (pg. 284) that is, having equality for animals, though not the Mexican or migrant citizens, and to be safe in the community around her, no matter how exclusive or.