Into the Beautiful North


Luis Alberto Urrea

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Into the Beautiful North: Chapter 24 Summary & Analysis

Rigoberto asks his housekeeper and cook to recolor Tacho's hair. The housekeeper serves tea in a glass teapot, and Tacho is entranced when the tealeaves unfurl into a miniature garden. Rigoberto explains that his partner, Wilivaldo, is conveniently bleach-blonde and about Tacho's size. Rigoberto dresses Tacho in Wilivaldo's clothes and offers Tacho a photo of Wilivaldo, and the resemblance is striking. He pulls Wilivaldo's passport out of his pocket.
Rigoberto’s plot to smuggle Tacho over the border is based on playing to the Border Patrol agents’ racism—its success rests on the Americans believing that Mexicans look enough alike to not investigate further.
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In the lanes of traffic waiting to cross the border, Rigoberto explains to Tacho that Border Patrol treats people in BMWs differently. He laughs and says that nobody really cares about Mexicans, as the Iranians are attracting all the attention. At the booth, Rigoberto rolls down the window and smiles, while Tacho looks moody and keeps his sunglasses on. Rigoberto hands the agent both passports, and Tacho ignores her when she asks his nationality. Rigoberto blushes and explains that he and "Wilivaldo" are hoping to have a nice weekend away to rekindle their sex life. The agent waves them through, and Tacho and Rigoberto laugh as they speed into California.
Rigoberto’s plan illustrates his acute awareness of how racism plays out in the real world. Meanwhile, his comment about Iranians attracting all of the attention is another reminder that this novel takes place immediately after the September 11 tragedy.
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Rigoberto buys Tacho lunch and then passes him a cell phone to call Irma and Matt. Rigoberto later drops Tacho off at a visitors' center. They gruffly say goodbye, and Tacho struts around the parking lot until the car is out of sight. He sits and tries not to cry before finally calling Matt's house on a payphone. Fifteen minutes later, a pickup pulls into the lot, driven by a terrifying man covered in "devil tattoos." The man, El Brujo, approaches Tacho and gives him the password: Yul Brynner.
By revisiting Yul Brynner, the novel reminds the reader that the entire quest was inspired by a "Mexican" movie star (who is actually Russian) and a fictional, far-fetched movie. In other words, the quest is imbued with idealism, which suggests that in reality, the quest won't go over as planned.
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