Into the Beautiful North

by

Luis Alberto Urrea

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Into the Beautiful North: Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In the morning, street men in Tijuana jeer and laugh at deportees, and coyotes wait to try to sell the deportees an immediate return. Many deportees find ways to pay: they want to make it to America so they can earn money and send it home. The higher-class residents of Tijuana ignore the returnees and the coyotes. To them, the border is an abstract idea, as many cross daily to work or shop and others just don't like all the deportees crowding Tijuana and bringing crime.
The prevalence and strength of the smuggling industry makes it abundantly clear that the Mexican idealization of the United States isn't something that's damaged by not making it across the border the first time.
Themes
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Nayeli leads Yolo and Vampi through the streets. She watches American men and wonders again what makes them different. She feels as though the border is strange and nonsensical: there are a number of Americans in Tijuana, and according to people she met in the holding pen, there are more Mexicans in Los Angeles than in the Mexican city of Culiacán. Nayeli looks up and sees Atómiko waiting for them. He leads the girls through the streets to a juice stand and instructs Nayeli to buy everyone juice. He then leads them to a cheap motel and instructs Nayeli to book two rooms. The girls fight for the shower and the toilet and then sleep until 5:00 p.m.
Nayeli doesn’t clarify if the Mexicans in Los Angeles are legal or otherwise. Legal immigrants presumably went through the proper channels and respected the American idea of what constitutes a border. For Nayeli, who wants to cross illegally, the border is an entirely different beast, since it's not just somewhere she has to flash a passport.
Themes
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
When Nayeli wakes up, she pulls out her postcard and reads her father's message, "everything passes." Then, she pulls out her card from Matt. She notices that Yolo is awake and is also looking at her card from Matt. They wonder what Matt is like now and decide to call him. Nayeli pulls on her clothes and is irritated to find Atómiko outside her room with Wino. She finds a payphone and calls Irma. When Irma picks up, Nayeli begins to cry. She tries to explain to Irma that Chava is no longer in Tijuana.
Nayeli's attempt to explain the Chava situation to Irma indicates that Irma isn't particularly interested in hearing that Chava isn't where or what she thought he was. Irma is caught up in her idealized vision of Chava in the same way that Nayeli is caught up in her fictitious, idealized vision of the US.
Themes
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
Irma suddenly asks about Atómiko and Tacho. Nayeli sighs, ignores her, and says that they're going back across the border and will call Matt when they get there. Irma curses and calls Matt a "simp" before reminding Nayeli of her mission. She tells Nayeli to not sleep with Matt or bring home American babies. Nayeli tells Irma that she wants to find her father in Kankakee. Irma sighs, but knows she won't be able to dissuade Nayeli. She promises to kick Don Pepe when he returns home.
Irma's command to not bring home American babies is another indicator of her sense of nationalism: American babies are lesser than Mexican babies, per Irma's understanding of the world. In addition, Irma seems to know already that finding Don Pepe is going to be different or simply more difficult than Nayeli realizes, showing that in some ways, Irma does have a greater understanding of the world.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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Back in the hallway, Wino and Atómiko lament Tacho's fate. Yolo and Vampi open the door, and they discuss the phone call to Irma with Nayeli. They decide to call Matt when they get to the US, but they agree that they don't want to cross the border. Wino clears his throat and says he feels bad and is going to do them a favor: he's going to "take them to the hole." Nayeli asks what the hole is, but Wino only says they'll have to pay him someday when they have money. He insists it's a guaranteed way into the US, and they must forget they've seen the hole once they make it to the other side.
Nayeli is rightfully wary of taking Wino up on such an offer: he didn't truly get them over the border the first time, so there's little evidence that he'll be able to get them through a second time. The presence of a hole suggests that there is a way to make the border meaningless—by going underground and simply circumventing the official border as represented by Border Control.
Themes
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon