The Tortilla Curtain

This essay sample on The Tortilla Curtain provides all necessary basic information on this matter, including the most common “for and against” arguments. Below are the introduction, body and conclusion parts of this essay.

Racism has always been a major issue in the United States, whether it is racism towards the homo sexual, Jewish, or the illegal immigrant racism will always be part of the United States. In the novel The Tortilla Curtain, by T. C Boyle he writes about a man named Delaney Mossabacher.

Delaney is a self proclaimed liberal humanist. In the novel Boyle puts Delaney in many situations that make you question his liberal humanist views. While on his way to a recycling center his life is changed forever when he runs over a man named Candido Rincon. Delaney insists on giving him $20 instead of taking him to the hospital.

This action makes you question whether he is truly a humanist. Delaney then realizes that Candido is an illegal immigrant living in Topanga creek where he often goes for hikes.

When Delaney goes to get his car repaired at the dealership he tells the man he hit a dog instead of telling him he hit a person. This is where he begins to see Mexicans as not being human because they don’t live like everyone else. The most controversial part of the novel is when Delaney is arguing with jack at the grocery store. His actions make you question everything he believes in.

Tortilla Curtain Part 3 Chapter 1

The final part of the story where everyone is looking at the fire you can clearly tell he has lost every ounce of liberal humanist and is now a full fledge racist.

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It is clear that the actions he takes in these situations clearly make him a very racist person not a liberal humanist like he claims to be. The first instance where Delaney begins transforming from a liberal humanist to a full fledge racist is at the recycling center. While at the recycling center Delaney begins to feel guilty about hitting Candido. He then realizes he is an illegal immigrant because he refused to get medical attention.

He also notices that he is living down in Topanga creek because of the contents in the shopping cart he was pushing around. This makes Delaney angry because he feels that Candidio is polluting the environment by living down at the creek. Boyle writes “Delaney felt his guilt turn to anger, to outrage” (11). This is an important part of the story because this is when he first notices that illegal immigrants are living down in Topanga creek. He also begins to notice that Mexicans are everywhere, from the guys working on the landscape in Arroyo Blanco to the guys working at the recycling center.

Delaney is angry because hitting Candido with his car is his first negative experience with Mexicans, and it plants a negative seed in Delaney mind. If Delaney wouldn’t have hit Candido he would have never noticed all the Mexicans, but because he thinks that Candido ran into his car on purpose he begins to have racist feelings towards Mexicans. Delaney feels that Mexicans are suddenly out to ruin his life. It is obvious the main reason Delaney is outraged is not because he hit him or because his car is damaged, it is because he ruined his day.

Delaney likes to live a very organized and routine driven life and by having this accident it has thrown off his daily routine and he resents Candido for doing that. The second instance where Delaney begins to transform into a racist is when he is at the car dealership getting his car repaired from the damage Candido caused. While at the dealership he begins to talk with Kenny Grissom the man who sold him the car. When Grissom asks him what he hit Delaney replies with “a dog, I think it was” (13). Although Delaney could have told him the truth that he accidently hit someone, he decides to lie and instead says he hit a dog.

This is important because it shows how little Delaney cares about what he did. Although Delaney is a self proclaimed humanist he is contradicting himself by lying and saying he hit a dog. Furthermore Delaney saying he hit a dog is symbolic because it shows the racist feelings he has toward Candido. He feels that Candido is like a dog that relays on society to take care of him. This is when Delaney’s true feelings towards Mexicans begin to show because he doesn’t see them as regular people but as dogs ready to take advantage of people whenever they get an opportunity.

Another clear instance of Delaney losing his liberal humanist views is in the middle of chapter seven part two. Delaney is arguing with Jack Jardine about the fence that is going to be put up around Arroyo Blanco. Jack is trying to convince Delaney that the wall is necessary but Delaney is adamantly against it. Delaney feels that it is wrong to put up the fence up just to keep illegal immigrants out. He says “Immigrants are the lifeblood of this country we’re a nation of immigrants and neither of us would be standing here today if it wasn’t” (101). When they leave the store Delaney sees Candido being harassed by someone.

His liberal humanist side feels he should help Candido but the racist part of him actually wishes harm on Candido. This is the most ironic part of the book because while they were in the store he was defending illegal immigrants. He felt like they have every right to be living in the United States. Once he is outside and actually has to deal with the issue by witnessing the events that took place he completely changes his view on Mexicans. This clearly shows that while he might consider himself a humanist he is actually is becoming more racist every time he has negative experience with Mexicans.

He once again feels that Mexicans are just here to make people’s life miserable and to take advantage of them whenever they have a chance. This begins to make Delaney furious because he can’t get seem to get away from Candido. He feels that Candido is a nuisance in his life and every time he has to deal with him bad things happen. One of the clearest examples that Delaney has completely lost his humanist views and is truly racist is toward the end of the novel when the people from Arroyo Blanco are evacuated due to the fire.

While everyone is standing outside looking at the fire Delaney notices Jose and his friend walking up the road. Delaney immediately confronts Jose and blames him for setting the fire. Boyle writes that Delaney “felt as much pure hatred as he’d ever felt in his life” (287). This is a clear act of racism because even though he had no clue who set the fire, he immediately blames Jose because he is Mexican. He sees him as a no good scum who has nothing better to do then to set fires and ruin peoples life.

This incident is really “the straw that broke the camel’s back” for Delaney because all the previous incidents didn’t really affect his personal life at home, but by Jose setting the fire he puts his family life in danger and Delaney feels pure hatred at him for doing that. He is outraged because he feels that Mexicans have no feelings and all they care about is themselves. This incident put Delaney in the “us versus them” racist mindset and he gets everyone to yell racist remarks at Jose. At this point Delaney really hates Mexicans because their actions put everything he owns in jeopardy.

By the end of the novel Delaney is clearly transformed from a liberal humanist to a racist because of the situations he is faced with. Whether it be things he says, like saying he hit a dog instead of an actual persons. He also contradicted himself by defending illegal immigrants at the grocery store calling them the lifeblood of the country, then turning around and wishing harm on someone just because they are illegal immigrants. His actions also clearly depicted him as a racist by the despicable actions he took on Jose Navidad toward the end of the novel by blaming him for the fire without knowing who actually started it.

It is apparent Boyle put him in these situations to make us question his liberal humanist view. Although Delaney is self proclaimed liberal humanist he like many other people was negatively affected by racism. If Delenay was truly the humanist he claimed to be he would not have had so much hate toward Candido, but when his family is affected by immigrants it forces him to have very negative feelings toward immigrants. So while Delaney would have liked to believe he was a liberal humanist, he like many other ethnic groups was adversely affected by racism.

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The Tortilla Curtain. (2019, Dec 06). Retrieved from

The Tortilla Curtain
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