Into the Beautiful North

by

Luis Alberto Urrea

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Into the Beautiful North: Chapter 34 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In the morning, Nayeli walks to a drive-through taco shop and asks the man if he knows her father. He suggests she go to the library and assures her that everyone likes Mexicans in Kankakee. Nayeli walks downtown to the huge silver building. She passes a group of Mexican kids and steps through the doors. All the books and computers make her feel extremely rural, but she feels too embarrassed to walk past the Mexican kids again. She sits down and looks around.
When Nayeli begins to lose confidence so close to the end of her personal quest, it shows that she's grappling with whether or not she's actually capable of completing it.
Themes
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Nayeli makes eye contact with a woman behind the counter, and the woman smiles. Nayeli goes to a computer and searches for Tres Camarones, and the woman comes over and asks Nayeli if she needs help. The woman's nametag says Mary-Jo, and Nayeli tells her that she's looking for her father. A young man walks by and says that Mary-Jo runs the city, but Mary-Jo explains to Nayeli that she's not the mayor.
Learning that Mary-Jo can both run the city and not be mayor continues to expand Nayeli's conception of what female power can look like. According to this young man, Mary-Jo is a true hero in town even though she doesn't occupy a major role in local government.
Themes
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Mary-Jo leads Nayeli behind her desk and calls the police. Nayeli is alarmed, but Mary-Jo assures her that it will be fine. She offers Nayeli a cookie, and soon, a Mexican-American officer shows up. Nayeli explains she's looking for her father, and the cop dials around as Mary-Jo says brightly that she loves Mexico. After a half hour, the cop jots down an address on a sticky note and says that Don Pepe might be in the north end of town. Mary-Jo offers to drive Nayeli there, and Nayeli thinks she loves Kankakee.
It's worth noting that these figures in Kankakee are kind to Nayeli in part because the town itself embraces its Mexican population and does what it can to make them feel welcome—essentially, it rejects some of the crueler notions of borders and immigrants in favor of accepting people for who they are.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Mary-Jo agrees to drop Nayeli off down the block from Don Pepe's house and sends her off with a hug. Nayeli studies the houses on the street as she walks and gets to a dead end. Beyond is a field and the highway. Nayeli turns back and wonders if her father shares a house with other men. She imagines him picking her up and laughing when he sees her, and she laughs as she thinks of her trip. She decides the entire thing was worth it.
It's telling that Nayeli decides the trip was worth it before she even sees her father, as it illustrates clearly how much she idolizes him and believes that he has spent the last three years thinking about her in the same way she's thought about him.
Themes
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
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A big Dodge truck passes Nayeli. It has stickers of the American and Mexican flags in the back window, and it stops on the street. A round woman gets out of the passenger side and fishes a toddler out of the backseat, and Nayeli starts walking towards her to ask after Don Pepe. Nayeli stops in her tracks when she sees Don Pepe get out of the driver's seat. He kisses the woman and leads her to the house, slapping her bottom as she crosses the threshold. Nayeli stands for a moment and then races to the field. She cries there for an hour, and then tucks her postcard under Don Pepe's windshield wiper and walks away.
When Nayeli realizes that her father is never coming back, she finally embraces the phrase on the postcard, "everything passes." As she comes to the understanding that even her relationship with her father will pass—and her hope that he will ever return to the village—she comes to see the world around her as it actually exists, not as she'd like to see it. Irma’s previous disparaging remarks about Nayeli’s quest to find Don Pepe suggest that Irma anticipated that Don Pepe had found someone else in the States and was never coming back to Tres Camarones.
Themes
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon