Into the Beautiful North

by

Luis Alberto Urrea

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Into the Beautiful North: Chapter 27 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Tacho and Nayeli begin their road trip early in the morning. The desert between San Diego and Las Vegas is dull, brown, and dusty. Nayeli flips through Matt's Spanish-English dictionary, learning as many words in Spanish as she does in English. Tacho tries to listen to the radio, but they only hear angry Americans yelling about how Mexicans carry diseases. Finally, Tacho turns it off.
This cross-country trip mirrors the bus ride from Mazatlán to Tres Camarones, which implies that a similar brand of disillusionment awaits Nayeli and Tacho at the end of their journey.
Themes
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
Related Quotes
After an hour, Nayeli comments that the desert is harsh. Tacho, lost in thought about Rigoberto's teapot, insists that Mexican deserts are more brutal. They reach their first turnoff point, which is the world's biggest thermometer. Matt laughed when he told him about it, but Tacho doesn't get why it's so funny. The narrator says that Tacho doesn't understand that these massive statues that pepper America represent a kind of patriotism, and Tacho is bored with the entire project of this road trip. Tacho doubts they'll actually find Don Pepe, but he feels obligated to support Nayeli by driving across the US.
Rigoberto's teapot represented a beautiful, untainted world—something that Tacho desperately wants but knows that he'll never find in America. His unwavering loyalty to and friendship with Nayeli is what keeps him from sharing his new understanding of the world with her. Like Irma, Tacho understands that Nayeli will have to come to her own understanding of the world and learn lessons herself.
Themes
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
Tacho thinks the US is far too big, and he wonders if the country's hugeness is why Americans seem so crazy. Nayeli is moody and quiet, which annoys Tacho. They slow down to gawk at an RV on fire and finally reach the Nevada border. Finally, by evening, they reach Las Vegas. When Nayeli sees the lights of the city, she starts laughing—it all looks absurd. They park and walk along the strip. Tacho purchases a disposable camera to take photos, and once they figure out how to get coins at a casino, they promptly lose $75 at the slot machines. Tacho adores the slot machines, and Nayeli has to drag him away.
Gambling represents a way for people to search for success in a controlled environment that's also possibly ruinous financially. Tacho's interest in the slot machines suggests that even if he has outgrown some of his idealism, he certainly hasn't given up on all of it.
Themes
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
When Tacho and Nayeli drop into a curio shop, Tacho suggests they get a wind-up penis for Yolo. Nayeli doesn't find it funny, and she drags him out of the shop. They find the motel that Matt booked for them and sign in as Shakira and Ricky Martin and then eat dinner in the diner next door. Once they get to their room, they stare out the window for a while and watch TV. As Nayeli snuggles into bed, she asks if they'll ever go back home, and Tacho confesses he doesn't know. He plays slots after Nayeli goes to sleep. In the morning, they're disappointed to see that Vegas is dusty and cracked in the daylight.
Tacho and Nayeli sign into hotels as celebrities, gesturing back to their previous obsession with the cinema, which made them idealize the US in the first place. Interestingly, they choose to sign in as two Latin American celebrities: Shakira, who is from Colombia, and Ricky Martin, who is from Puerto Rico. Perhaps this aligns with the way Irma thought Yul Brynner was Mexican, or perhaps Tacho and Nayeli are simply playing into the absurdity of Las Vegas by pretending to be celebrities themselves.
Themes
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
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