Into the Beautiful North


Luis Alberto Urrea

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Into the Beautiful North: Chapter 32 Summary & Analysis

When they reach the Great Plains, Nayeli feels as though they've stopped moving because the land is simply so vast and empty. Tacho comments that the van's engine doesn't sound great, and Nayeli feels menstrual cramps starting. They pass signs for a six-thousand-pound prairie dog, and Nayeli attempts to translate "prairie dog" without success. She asks Tacho to stop so she can buy supplies, and Tacho asks the lady at the counter what a "dog of the pradera" is. When the lady figures out what Tacho is referring to, she tells him that the prairie dog is made of cement.
Earlier, the narrator asserted that these giant statues represent a kind of American patriotism. This situates Tacho's sense of betrayal and disillusionment with the prairie dog statue as general disillusionment with the United States as a whole. The tone of the lady at the counter suggests that this disillusionment is also an intrinsic part of the US.
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When Tacho and Nayeli reconvene at the van, he announces that everything is a cruel illusion. They stop at the prairie dog anyway, and Tacho initially thinks it must be a popular spot given the number of cars in the lot but is disappointed when he discovers grass growing through and around the cars. They stop in at the souvenir shop, and the shopkeeper tells them a joke they don't understand.
The cars parked around the giant prairie dog suggest that whoever owns the statue wants it to be a major attraction and is willing to create the kind of reality he or she would like to see—though for Tacho, it represents the way in which America is one big illusion and disappointment.
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Tacho is confused when they pass a sign for another town named Salina. They drive through Kansas City the next day, and immediately upon crossing the state line into Missouri, they pass through another Kansas City. Tacho is extremely confused, and the van's engine continues to make strange noises. Feeling queasy, Tacho declares that the trip is torture, and Nayeli apologizes and fights back tears. Tacho is almost crying too.
The repeating names of towns and neighboring towns make Tacho feel confused, alienated, and even more unwelcome in the US. Nayeli's tears suggest that she's feeling the same way.
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They stop in Saint Louis to look at the Mississippi River. Tacho feels stabs in his stomach and tells Nayeli to not drink the water. They purchase Pepto-Bismol and stop for the night at a motel in Illinois. Tacho throws up his dinner around midnight.
The disappointment in the US culminates when the water makes Tacho physically ill—just like Irma said it would. This gives Irma more credibility, even if most of her information about the US is extremely outdated.
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