Category: T.C. Boyle

The Wall: Which Side Do You Fall On?

The Wall: Which Side Do You Fall On?

We cannot eradicate the coyote, nor can we fence him out, not even with eight feet of chain link, as this sad but wiser pilgrim can attest. Respect him as the wild predator he is, keep your children and pets inside, leave no food source, however, negligible, where he can access it…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.” (214-15)

Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle (1995) portrays the sad reality that we as Americans, are living today. The quote above discusses the need for a wall to keep out the coyotes but in reality it is meant for keeping out the other races, specifically Mexicans. Now in the year 2017 we are struggling with this idea of a ‘wall’ being built along the Mexico border and the fact that this idea was even brought into conversation in the first place is disturbing. This book brings in a completely different view of two different couples who live on either sides of the land. Delaney and Kyra are the main American characters and they come across Amèrica and Càndido who end up changing their lives. The theme behind this story is that people of other races are dangerous and they have to be kept out. This so called, ‘racial danger’ is so real to our world right now and the wall coming up is serious. If there is a wall built, what side would you want to be on.

This past Spring break I was lucky enough to travel to a town on the coast of Baja, Mexico. I come from a little town where racial diversity isn’t really a thing. Of course we had a couple of different races in my high school but by a couple I mean maybe ten out of the 700 students. So when I went to this town called Loreto I was a little nervous especially since my parents kind of primed me before my trip by saying, “don’t ever leave your stuff unlock or alone”, “you can never go anywhere on your own as well” my parents weren’t even going on this trip and they have never even been to Mexico but it was really sad for me to hear them saying these things just because of assumptions. Just like in this book, we assume that people who are different than us are suddenly dangerous. Since Donald Trump had just been inducted into office a wall being built surrounding all Americans and secluding us from the rest of the world was a realistic option. In the last couple of years there has been a new border crossing set in place where you just walk down the hall through a building and you’re suddenly in Mexico. The diversity change was unreal. We started in San Diego and even there, the amount of different races incredible. Just going to a major city like this was something so new to me. All of our Uber drivers were different races and they were all so nice as well. I truly had a culture shock and I hadn’t even left the country yet. Once we crossed the border we were in Tijuana, known as the largest drug city in the world. I didn’t leave the airport but it was beautiful.

Loreto Mexico, Spring Break 2017

When you think of Mexico we all seem to picture pools and margaritas but I got the entire opposite of Mexico. I loved being able to see the sad truth about the abandoned buildings, the hundreds of stray animals, the cows that just roam, and the reality of people who live outside of the US. Tortilla Curtain started with just a gate around Arroyo Blanco and the immigrants jumping the ‘wall’. So many people have to come to the US to survive, they drive across the border every single day of the week to go to their job only to turn around at the end of the day and drive home. I had a conversation with the woman who was cleaning our house that week and she talked to me about her home life and how she has to travel to the US every other month. This talk made me think about what would happen to all of these people if we had a wall along our borders. Not only would we ruin our alliances and sources of products but we would literally be ruining peoples lives. Kyra was scared about people coming into her home but she wasn’t thinking about why the Mexicans are in the states in the first place. There are many buildings where they don’t even have windows and you can’t get fresh water there, you have to buy it from the Agua store. These are the exact things I was thinking about when I read this story. We can’t have a wall whether it is just around Arroyo Blanco or around the entire US. Walls are mean’t to keep things out but I think what we keep forgetting is that they also keep things in. Americans are notorious for leaving their home country and having the ability to fly wherever they want but with a wall you can’t have places where you can travel to such as Loreto. Mexicans welcome us into their home country everyday and they accept the fact that we arent really there for anything but pleasure. But in Tortilla Curtain, Cándido and América are searching for their way of survival. They need to be able to stay in the states to stay alive and to search for our so called “American Dream”.

The road to San Javier

Within the walls of Arroyo Blanco is a sad woman, Kyra, who sees her gorgeous home that is finally protected by the ‘wild’ Mexicans but she is forced on an everyday basis to face her own dreadful life. Outside of the walls she is closing out all of the other people around her and that is scary in itself. We can build walls around our countries borders but all that will be left within the states is greed, dissatisfaction, waste, and depressed American citizens. So I guess the question we should all be asking ourselves, especially those who have read Tortilla Curtain, which side of the wall would you want to be on? The side of greed or the side of freedom, happiness, and community?