Into the Beautiful North

by

Luis Alberto Urrea

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Into the Beautiful North: Chapter 22 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Late at night, Atómiko and Matt giggle drunkenly in Matt's living room. They speak a strange mixture of Spanish and English and try to keep quiet so they don't wake the girls. However, Yolo emerges from Matt's room wearing nothing but one of Matt's t-shirts and asks the boys to be quiet. When Atómiko offers to "help her sleep," Yolo slams the door. Atómiko asks Matt if he has any shorter t-shirts, which sends them into another fit of laughter. Yolo opens the door and yells at them again.
Matt and Atómiko are drunk, obnoxious, and objectifying Yolo, which shows the boys’ immaturity. The girls seem to think of Matt as a hero and Atómiko as a warrior, but in this instance, neither boy lives up to the girls’ perceptions.
Themes
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
Atómiko tells Matt about a woman who once showed him her breasts, but Matt barely listens. He announces that he's lost, but Atómiko insists he's just drunk. When Matt insists he's actually lost in the world, Atómiko says that the world is lost, citing the melting ice caps and the Arabs as evidence. He admits that his real name is Kiko, and he became a soldier to kill everyone. When Matt asks, Atómiko says he ended up in the dump because someone caught him stealing a chicken. Atómiko says the Mexican Army pays in American dollars and teaches them English, and finally, the boys go to sleep.
Atómiko's story about stealing a chicken indicates that a relatively small mistake is enough to ruin somebody as heroic as a soldier in the Mexican Army, which provides further evidence that heroism isn't something that's infallible.
Themes
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
In the morning, Nayeli, Yolo, and Vampi quietly wash their clothes. They giggle at how fast asleep Atómiko and Matt are—the girls are dressed and drinking coffee before the boys move at all. When he wakes up, Atómiko yells for pancakes. Matt greets all the girls and calls them beautiful, and Vampi crawls under the covers with him. Nayeli wonders how Yolo can both scowl and smile at the same time.
Vampi and Yolo flirt with Matt frequently, which suggests that Nayeli’s prevailing belief that she'll be the one to win Matt over might be incorrect. Nayeli's silent curiosity also shows that she's turning inwards and consulting herself, not her girlfriends, something that could have consequences for their friendship.
Themes
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
Later, Matt drives the group to get pancakes. Nayeli tries to explain what a pancake is to Vampi, but Vampi declares she'll order huevos rancheros. When they walk into a diner, a woman named Velma shows Matt and the girls to a booth, offering condolences for Ma Johnston. When Matt tells Velma that his friends are Mexicans, Velma yells "welcome to the United States" at them. They wonder if she's mad at them.
Though the narrator doesn't offer any insight into Velma's tone, it's reasonable to assume that she's trying to compensate for not speaking Spanish by increasing the volume of her voice. This offers an example of attempted kindness falling flat on account of latent racism.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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Vampi turns and freezes—a short Mexican man with black hair puts down waters at their table, and he's wearing a black 69 Eyes tee shirt. He smiles at Vampi, who breathlessly tells him she's a vampire. Later that evening, the man, El Brujo, picks Vampi up. He takes her to a hill where many cars filled with couples park to watch the city. Vampi swoons as El Brujo explains that he doesn't do drugs or drink and insists that Vampi is his drug. Vampi puts her head on his chest as he explains that the rich people live on the hill and that someday, the two of them will live on the hill, too. When he begins to sing "Gothic Girl," Vampi knows El Brujo has won her heart.
Discovering El Brujo suggests that accomplishing the goal of finding seven men to take home might not be as difficult as it initially seemed. However, the speed at which this relationship moves creates the possibility that this romance won't be a great thing for the girls' friendship. In addition, it seems that Vampi is smitten with El Brujo because he likes her favorite band—not the most substantial basis of a relationship.
Themes
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
El Brujo had been a guitarist for a metal band but came to the US when it was apparent that his small Mexican town couldn't support a metal band. He was shocked to find that nobody in the US wanted to hire him either, since he's undocumented and didn't speak English. After a year or two, he got a job in the diner and has been working there for the last six years. After he tells Vampi his story, he says he'll probably work for another six years. He asks Vampi if she's his girl, and Vampi agrees she is. She climbs on his lap, kisses him, and tells him her story.
El Brujo's story shows that the United States doesn't hold the promise of a better life for all of its immigrants. El Brujo is the first male character to make this clear, which sets a precedent that the other men the girls will meet might be similarly disillusioned with the States, even if they came with grand ideas about what America would hold for them.
Themes
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Back at Ma Johnston's house, Matt and Yolo search the phone book for Chavarín. They find a Salvador Chavarín, and Yolo places the call. Chava is shocked when Yolo explains that she's calling on behalf of Irma in Tres Camarones. Yolo discovers that Chava works at a bowling alley, but he doesn't want the girls to come see him at work. Yolo and Nayeli wonder if he was actually Irma's boyfriend, and they ask Matt to drive them to the alley.
Chava asks Yolo and the other girls to not come see him at work, which suggests that he is ashamed of his job at the bowling alley. Chava’s possible shame surrounding his job implies that he might be just as disillusioned with the United States as El Brujo is.
Themes
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon