Into the Beautiful North

by

Luis Alberto Urrea

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Into the Beautiful North: Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In the days leading up to the election, Nayeli and Irma work hard to make the women of Tres Camarones believe that they should vote for a woman. According to Irma, many of them have spent their entire lives believing that women are moody, illogical, and incapable, but she has a plan to fix this.
Irma recognizes that the boundaries of "femininity" are manmade. This narrow understanding of femininity is what keeps the women of Tres Camarones from either being their own heroes or voting for other women who can be their heroes.
Themes
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Irma's distant cousin and the only rich man in town, García-García, owns the theater. Recently, his projectionist (the person who operates the projector at a cinema) left town to pick apples in the US. As hard as García-García tried, he wasn't able to find a new projectionist, so García-García now spends his evenings sweating in his projection booth, worrying about money the whole time. He struggles to keep a constant stream of new double features running, and the films are often of questionable quality.
The constant necessity for new films suggests that the entire economy of Tres Camarones is built on the idealization shown in movies. This in turn means that García-García has a great deal of power, as he chooses the movies and therefore chooses how Tres Camarones thinks about the US and the world.
Themes
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
A few days before the election, Irma and Nayeli knock on the door of García-García's big, white house. One of his five housekeepers answers the door and shows them to García-García's office. Irma informs García-García that "we are tired of this shit," referring to the movies that play at the cinema. When Irma introduces Nayeli as her campaign manager, García-García holds Nayeli's hand a little too long and looks at her chest for even longer. Irma explains that Nayeli knows karate, which García-García deems unfeminine. Nayeli suggests it's time for a "new kind of femininity" and studies García-García's poster of Steve McQueen.
Nayeli’s comment about needing a “new kind of femininity” means that it's time for the kind of strong-willed, take-charge femininity that Irma and karate represent. García-García's insistence that karate isn't feminine falls in line with the assertion that Tres Camarones doesn't like change: it's not in García-García’s best interest to accept that women can change the village, as that means he'll have to give up some of his power.
Themes
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Irma says that she expects new employment opportunities for women after the election, and García-García insists that he already hires women. Irma says that his female employees sell food and clean, and García-García explains that the real money goes to management and the projectionist. When Irma smiles, García-García begins arguing with her that she must be joking. Irma says that she demands that García-García hire a female projectionist. She leans over his desk and explains that one day, she'll be president, and it would be a wise move to support the women who will soon be in charge.
The fact that García-García isn't willing to hire a female projectionist shows that he relies on his sexism to remain in power and keep men in power. Meanwhile, Irma’s insistence reveals that she represents positive change for Tres Camarones and the idea that change can be a good thing. Further, by claiming that her rise to power is inevitable, she capitalizes on the current gender imbalance in Tres Camarones to seize power for herself.
Themes
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
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When Irma is finished, she takes one of García-García's cigarettes and waits for him to light it. Nayeli thinks that she watched this happen on TV, and that Irma looks like Bette Davis. Finally, García-García agrees and shakes hands with Irma. Irma asks for one favor: a film festival featuring her favorite Mexican movie star, Yul Brynner. García-García yells that Yul Brynner isn't Mexican, but Irma won't hear it: she explains that she saw his house in Puerto Vallarta when she was bowling, and he spoke perfect Spanish in the film Taras Bulba. When García-García says the film was dubbed, Irma says he's being ridiculous. Nayeli follows Irma out.
This moment, while comedic, shows that the residents of Tres Camarones rely on idealized, cinematic versions of reality for entertainment and guidance as to how to interact with each other. For all Irma's power, however, she is wrong about Yul Brynner—he was a Russian actor, and the fact that Irma insists that he's Mexican reinforces her deep-rooted nationalism. It also seems that Irma’s love for Yul Brynner has nothing to do with his talent and everything to do with the fact that she believes he is Mexican.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
On election day, everyone in Tres Camarones votes. The narcos' cars cruise past the town but don't stop. At ten in the morning, the voting is over, and Irma wins by a landslide. The outgoing mayor, Ernesto James, notes that women counted the ballots, but there aren't enough men to force a recount. Finally, he gives in and declares Irma the winner. The women light off fireworks, and Tacho plays loud music. Irma hugs Nayeli and says that a new age has arrived.
With this win, Irma finally obtains the official power to be the hero Tres Camarones needs, indicating that women are capable of being heroes and effecting change in the world. When the other women celebrate by lighting fireworks, it suggests that Tres Camarones (or at least its female residents) is beginning to accept change.
Themes
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon