Into the Beautiful North

by

Luis Alberto Urrea

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Into the Beautiful North: Chapter 28 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Tacho finds an oldies radio station, and he and Nayeli reminisce about life in Tres Camarones. Tacho discovers he loves pumping gas, as it makes him feel masculine. Nayeli continues to translate words to Spanish as they drive, and they laugh when she translates "taxidermy." When they reach I-70, the turnoff to head east, an attendant at the gas station corrects Tacho's pronunciation of Salina, Utah.
When the narrator notes that pumping gas makes Tacho feel masculine, it's another indicator that male power and heroism often comes from association with objects or actions. Meanwhile, Tacho and Nayeli’s reminiscence about Tres Camarones indicates that they now idealize life there rather than in the US—suggesting that it will disappoint them when they return.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
When they reach the town of Green River, Nayeli is nervous when nobody at the gas station laughs. She and Tacho find a Mexican restaurant and are thrilled to smell familiar foods. The Mexican cook welcomes them, and Tacho greets him in Spanish. Nayeli thanks their waitress (the cook’s wife) in Spanish when she brings them chips and salsa, but the woman informs Nayeli that they speak English. When the woman returns to take their food orders, Nayeli enunciates her English as best she can, but Tacho insolently orders in Spanish.
For the waitress and the chef, the best way they know to feel like a part of the United States is to adopt English and outright reject their Mexican heritage—though their jobs in a Mexican restaurant suggest that they understand that their culture is something they can earn money from. Nayeli is shocked because it hasn't occurred to her to be ashamed of her heritage.
Themes
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
When the cook’s wife returns to deliver a Coke for Tacho, Nayeli asks her where she's from. The woman replies that she's from Colorado, and she and Nayeli look at each other strangely. Nayeli asks where she's from originally, and the woman admits that her parents are from Durango and her husband is from Chihuahua. When the cook comes out to check on how the food is, he asks Tacho and Nayeli if they're on vacation. Nayeli explains that she and Tacho "came across," and the cook glares. He yells at them to get out and shouts that he's a legal resident, and people like Tacho and Nayeli make him look bad. Tacho and Nayeli rush out, ashamed, and cry in the car out of confusion.
The chef's anger makes it very clear that his status and sense of belonging in the US is tenuous. As far as the chef is concerned, two illegal immigrants visiting his restaurant is enough to ruin his acceptance in the US. Though Tacho and Nayeli were just looking for a comforting piece of home, they are shocked to find out that even their fellow Mexicans are unwilling to show them kindness or understanding.
Themes
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Related Quotes
All the landmarks Tacho and Nayeli encounter fail to amaze them, and they fear that every car is filled with people who will accuse them of being illegal. Tacho pulls off at a trading post, where they purchase a plastic model of the twin towers to put on the dash and an American flag decal for the windshield. Tacho purchases a tee shirt with Apache warriors on it, and the narrator notes that Tacho didn't realize that Apache warriors would've killed him outright.
The narrator's aside about the Apache warriors shows that to find belonging, it's sometimes necessary for a person to embrace things that are in direct opposition to who they are and what they believe, showing again that these kinds of arbitrary divisions are pointless and hurt everyone.
Themes
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
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