T.C. Boyles Tortilla curtain is an important example of a piece of literature that breaks through social barriers and is written from a perspective where class and race is broken down and voided in the regard of how they are morally upheld; through an objective view. Their status is not based on a typical, political type of lens, but instead, we finally get a story where all of that is brought up often, yet we are brought to realize all of these constructs are obsolete, and who a human being is at their core is what really matters. What this book conveys is a sense of character and identity at a level where class and societal bounds are absolutely a factor, but is not the point of the message. What I think T.C. Boyle is really trying to do here is show that it does actually matter a lot where you come from and what your circumstances are as far as how people perceive you.
One of the protagonists Delaney has himself fooled, thinking he is a liberal humanist but seems to be racist towards Mexicans, and not quite a great humanist either. I mean he hits a man with his car and is instinctually concerned about his car. Many people will put on a show and tell others about what they think their ideal beliefs SHOULD be, regardless if they actually think in the manner that they express themselves to others. This character is a great social commentary on people who do not practice what they preach, but instead, try to look like the good guy. He criticizes Mexicans and thinks that they are thieves and generally bad people who are majorly linked to criminal activity. When his car gets stolen, he can only picture Candido driving away with it and this angers him. Again when he sees the trash and vandalism in the wilderness, he pictures Mexicans doing it. This is a very toxic and contradictory thinking pattern compared to how he portrays himself to the world. It is even more so powerful due to the fact that Candido and America are presumably nice people who just wish to have a better life and are actually just trying to live their life to its fullest, without doing anything illegal! There are bad people of every race and background. To assume groups of people are morally inferior to another, even subconsciously, is a huge problem that is unacceptable.
This book is a well thought out juxtaposition that shows the harsh realities of certain ethnic groups and the struggles, assumptions, and atrocities pertaining to each. Although most of the events in this book are objectively not settling, it is settling to see what T.C. Boyle did as an author, trying to make the world a little better. How he did this was through attributing the concept of understanding, and empathy. The part of the book that really hit me and made me think of that was the part where America has been working all day, struggling to clean the statues with no gloves and tolerating the burns through her hands, scared to ask her boss for gloves and the repercussions that may follow. When she then sits in the pink bathroom mesmerized and thinking about having one, it really put a lot of things in perspective for me even in my own life. It is dumbfounding that at this very second, so many people are struggling with life, dreaming about their “bathroom”.
Tortilla Curtain sets a great precedent for the future in the regards of unity. The world will not be able to push much further without recognizing and empathizing one another for who we truly are: Human beings with a head on our shoulders and dreams in our heart. Mostly everyone wants to just have a good life, but there are many obstacles in the way (Whether they are the more mundane and less threatening, or very real and tragic struggles that are quite horrifying, such as Candido and America’s situation). These obstacles are naturally more challenging for minorities and for white people we must understand that the world is indeed a more challenging and less forgiving place for people of darker complexion. God knows why and how this happened, but realizing this, and taking about solutions in order for true equality is not only fair, but also mandatory.
Equality should be the future, for we are all human and would like to succeed in this world. We are all equal as human beings at our core, and should only be judged on the content of our character. My advice is don’t be a somewhat shallow and hypocritical “world saver” like Delaney, but instead try to practice empathy and see yourself in other human beings, as well as the environment too, of course. We are all here to build a better life. This book made me feel more human in the sense that everyone is just a person, regardless of his or her skin color, upbringing, culture, and social interactions. No one person is better than another except solely based on their character and mindset. White, Mexican, or ANY culture for that matter deserves to be treated with dignity and decency, especially if they wish to do no harm.