The Coyote In The Tortilla Curtain by T. Coraghessan Boyle, the authorrepeatedly draws parallels between the actual coyote and the figurative coyote.
Boyle uses the actual coyote to show how the animal actually is. In this novelthe coyote acts as a symbol for many things. Boyle parallels the figurativecoyote with Jose Navidad who is portrayed as the bad character in the novel.
Boyle also uses the coyote to parallel the illegal immigrants and the way thecoyote lives. Candido is one of the main characters in the novel that is anillegal Mexican and is paralleled to the coyote.
Boyle points out how the coyoteis symbolic of illegal aliens. He also shows the meanings of the literal coyoteto the real animal itself. In each of these cases, we see how the coyote playsan important role in The Tortilla Curtain. The coyote in this novel is symbolictowards the characters actions and their way of life. In the first part ofthe novel entitled Arroyo Blanco we see how Boyle uses the literal coyoteto portray the real animal.
The Mossbacher family consists of Delaney, Kyra, andJordan. They own two terrier dogs named Sacheverell and Osbert. One night acoyote jumps over and eats Sacheverell. The family is heart broken over this sothey put up an even higher fence to keep out any unwanted animals. Again, thecoyote jumps over the fence and eats the other dog named Osbert. It seems asthough the coyote will do whatever is has to do to survive. Even if that meansbreaking and entering. The homeowners association is trying to put up a gate tokeep out the Salvadorans, the Mexicans, the blacks, the gangbangers, andtaggers and carjakers(pg 39). Boyle uses the coyote as a symbol ofbreaking in and taking whatever he wants. Even though the Mossbachers put up aneven higher fence, it still did not keep the coyote out, just as the gate maynot keep out the illegal aliens. Delaney is outraged at the fact that thecoyotes have eaten his dogs. They are trying to keep the coyotes out, just asthey are trying to keep all the illegal aliens out of Arroyo Blanco. They wantto keep the intruders out. Boyle also uses the coyote as a symbol to parallelwith the illegal aliens. Delaney Mossbacher writes a monthly column in the paperthat is about nature. In one of his columns he talks about how the coyotes livecompared with the illegal Mexicans. One coyote, who makes his living on thefringes of my community has learned to simply chew his way through theplastic irrigation pipes whenever he wants a drink. (Pg 212). This is one ofthe quotes from Delaneys column. In this quote Delaney is talking about howthe coyote lives just like the illegal Mexicans. This is a definite parallel toCandido. Candido is an illegal Mexican who is living in the hills trying to liveoff the land. This is very much like the coyotes life. He too lives off theland. Delaney also talks about having the Los Angeles county animal controltrap and euthanize the coyotes. This is very much like the la migra comingto pick up all the illegal immigrants standing on the corner waiting for work.
Boyle uses the coyote to symbolize how they live and how Candido lives. Both arevery similar. Boyle points out that coyotes live off the land, as does Candido.
Candido is just like the coyote because he too is living off the land and isusing other peoples stuff to survive. Both Candido and the coyote areintruding on other peoples property taking whatever they feel is necessary tosurvive. Another person the has the resemblance of the coyote is Jose Navidad.
Like the coyote, Jose Navidad is also an intruder. He is described as a tallpale man with between yellow and red eyes. Candido spots Jose at the top of thetrail coming down into the canyon. They exchange a few words and Jose leaves.
Candido feels that Jose is intruding on his space. Now he had to worry aboutthis stinking crack-toothed pendejo nosing around down in the canyon, as if hedidnt have enough problems already. (Pg 90). Candido is now very worriedthat Jose may come down to his camp and steal all of his stuff. Jose Navidad ismuch like the coyote because the coyote intrudes on other peoples space justas Jose has. Later on in the novel Jose goes down to the camp and rapesCandidos wife America. Jose has intruded on their space and took what hewanted. In this case he rapes America. Also, Jose and his friend are found onthe Da Ros property. This is one of Kyras properties that she is trying tosell. Kyra confronts Jose and she asks him what he is doing here. Jose says theyare just hiking and that they dont know this area very well. Kyra tells thetwo men that they are on private property and they must leave. Later on whenKyra comes back to the Da Ros place she sees Pinche Puta written on the side ofthe house. This shows the character of Jose Navidad. He is an intruder whointrudes on other peoples property and does what he pleases. This is justlike the coyote. The coyote also goes from place to place taking what he wants.
In each of these cases we have seen how Boyle uses his characters actions toportray the coyote. The coyote has intruded on the Mossbachers property justas Jose Navidad has intruded on the Da Ros property. In Delaneys column hewrote that they are trying to kick out all the immigrants just as they aretrying to trap and euthanize the coyotes. Boyle also uses Candido to tryand portray how the coyote lives. The way Candido and America live is muchsimilar to the way the coyote lives. In each instance we can see that they bothscavenge around and try to live off of the land. In one of Delaneys columnshe writes that the coyote has adapted. We can see how Candido has adapted to hissurroundings just like the coyote has. In all of these cases we see how thecoyote resembles some part of the characters. The coyote has proved to be asymbol in this novel because many of the characters actions have resembledpart of the coyote.
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