In Lakoff and Wehling’s text, Your Brain’s Politics , the authors argue that meaning within the
world is constructed via metaphor. This theoretical underpinning was used as the foundation of
the course during Week 1. Likewise, Writing Essays About Literature suggests that these forms
(words) crafted in the design of literature should ” instruct, delight, and imitate ” (33). Hence, in
the Tortilla Curtain, T.C. Boyle raises pressing immigration issues with extensive ,
heavilyladened
metaphors to illustrate the values held by its characters and shed light on
broader political issues.
Delaney, the primary vehicle Boyle uses in his quasiconclusion
on immigration, has a
single myopic viewpoint pertaining to people outside of Arroyo Blanco and its inhabitants. The
vantage point of Candido and America makes us privy to their story, the limitations to their
access and vision of what constitutes America (myopic as well)the
wall, the gate, the
democracy, the family, the food, l a lucha . The tension and irony between these two extreme
vantage points all seem tangible and real to us since we can see both sides of the issues on
immigration. Not only that, it we become aware of these characters’ values: why and how they
constructs their beliefs and, in the end, have the courage to act on their conviction. In short,
there is no threat of the single story, thanks in part to the power of the thirdpersonlimited
narrator.
However, we don’t have an opportunity to know every human that, arguably, is at fault for
reinforcing the metaphorical “walls” that shape our boundaries and beliefs and define the
parameters of comfort that prescribe how we interact with others whom are different. We, too,
operate within our own myopic viewpoints. Frankly, we are our own narrators operating in the
firstperson;
nothing matters more than “I,” “me,” “mine.” Unfortunately, we don’t have the
omniscient power to grapple with the full complexity of what is important to any given person.
Unfortunately, no single story is greater than our own. We feel threatened and unwilling to listen
to other people’s stories since we are too entertained and enraptured by our own.
Choose one of the following prompts to write about:
1 ) What is the significance of T.C. Boyle’s work? Please guide your ideas by employing the
feature used on pages 9093
in W.E.A.L. You will be responsible for creating your “labels”
(forthcoming).
2 ) Using metaphorical interpretations, discuss how this book could be a perceived rallying cry
for immigrants, a cry for help, a “Socorro,” if you will. To achieve this end, do state how the
symbols, both political and social elements, are teased out through the novel.
3 ) How is “America” just like the “American Dream?” To argue this, make a claim regarding the
dream and find evidence within the text that alludes to your interpretation of the term.
4 ) Boundaries (walls)—both real and metaphorical—play a contentious role in the novel,
especially the front gate at Arroyo Blanco Estates. In what other instances do “boundaries”
appear and what do they represent (metaphor and its values)? What roles do the different
characters play in constructing these boundaries?
5 ) What role does food play within the text and understanding the “power” of a meal (remember,
food is never food). Where and how does it shape and shift the landscape of the novel?
6 ) How does the following quote relate to a possible overarching theme of the text: “Though one
was half again as large as the other, they seemed to coexist peacefully enough until I went away
for a week and returned to see the larger drinking up the vital juices of the smaller, which at that
point resembled nothing so much as a tiny scorpionshaped
balloon that someone had let the air
out of.” (78).
7 ) How does the following quote pertain to the book? Which characters could be depicted by
this image? Why? “And then I hear it, a high tenuous glissade of sound that I might almost have
mistaken for a siren if I didn’t know better, and I realize that this is what I’ve been waiting for all
along: the coyote chorus. The song of the survivor, the Trickster, the fourlegged
wonder who
can find water where there is none and eat hearty among the rocks and the waste places.” (79).
8 ) The ending of the novel is vague and broad…what is the resounding conclusion that one is
supposed to derive out from this nebulous end?
9 ) Homes, domiciles, shelters, labor campswhat
message is T.C. Boyle attempting to convey
to the reader? What power or message do these contrasting settings provide and connote?
10 ) YOURS

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