Into the Beautiful North

by

Luis Alberto Urrea

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Into the Beautiful North: Chapter 36 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Arnie is back in Calexico after his stint in San Diego, checking cars at a tourist checkpoint. He's hotter than ever and thinks it's almost time to escape to the Rockies. When he sees a bus coming, he decides to wave it over and check it. The driver lets him on, and Arnie makes his way down the aisle. At the back of the bus, he stops and stares at Nayeli and Tacho. Too tired to smile, Nayeli greets Arnie and reintroduces herself. Tacho puts out his wrists for handcuffs, and Arnie remarks that it's a small world. He motions for them to follow him off the bus, and the driver gets their bags out for them.
Even though Nayeli and Tacho are fully disillusioned with the United States, the fact that the driver makes sure they don't leave without their bags suggests that the US isn't all bad—Nayeli and Tacho didn't even get their bags in Mexico, a place they now idealize entirely, given their disappointing journey through the US. Meanwhile, for Arnie, coming across Nayeli again shows him that she wasn't lying about her quest (which he previously thought was a fantastical, made-up story). In recognizing Nayeli, Arnie thinks of Nayeli and Tacho as human beings rather than anonymous illegal immigrants.
Themes
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Arnie shows Nayeli and Tacho into the back of his truck and tells his coworker that he's taking his "clients" in. As he drives, he asks Nayeli where her smile went and if she found her father. Nayeli says she found him, but it wasn't good. Finally, Arnie pulls over and asks Nayeli to tell him about her progress since he processed her in California. Nayeli explains that she's taking twenty-seven Mexican men back to Mexico with her, and Arnie can barely believe it. He gets out, offers Nayeli and Tacho water, and asks them to tell him their story again.
Again, offering water is a very concrete way for Arnie to acknowledge that Nayeli and Tacho are human beings just like he is. Considering Arnie’s growing dissatisfaction with his job and the Border Patrol agency as a whole, this situation with Tacho and Nayeli offers Arnie a chance to use his position for something good and meaningful.
Themes
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
Finally, Arnie decides that Tacho and Nayeli aren't lying about their quest. He sighs, knowing that Tacho and Nayeli will never make it back to San Diego. He wonders what the government can do to him and drives Nayeli and Tacho to his house in Yuma. He feeds them, and when night falls, he drives them all the way to San Diego.
When Arnie questions what the government could do to punish him, Arnie seems to think that helping Tacho and Nayeli get to San Diego won’t have any serious consequences for him. However, he’s clearly cognizant of the fact that he’s taking a huge risk by helping Tacho and Nayeli, as Arnie chooses to drive them in the safety and anonymity of night.
Themes
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon