Into the Beautiful North

by

Luis Alberto Urrea

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Into the Beautiful North: Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
That night, Nayeli wanders around her mother's dark house and thinks about poor orphaned Vampi. Vampi's parents died in a bus accident: the driver fell asleep and drove off a cliff, killing all the passengers but not himself. Vampi is able to get away with her goth phase because her grandmother is too tired to fight her.
The particulars of Vampi's parents' deaths suggest that nothing in life can be trusted—not even a simple bus ride. In this way, the novel suggests that there's disillusionment and heartbreak to be had everywhere.
Themes
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Nayeli approaches her mother's small altar to Don Pepe. A few candles surround a framed photo of him in his police officer's uniform. Nayeli smiles as she remembers how he used to set up bottles and let her shoot at them with his pistol. Even though Don Pepe loved his daughter, Nayeli could always tell that he wanted a son. Nayeli thinks about the day he left and how he simply couldn't earn enough money as an officer to take care of her and her mother. He had been a philosopher and a fatalist—on his postcard from Kankakee, Illinois, he'd written his favorite phrase, "Everything passes." Nayeli knows that this means that joy, as well as sorrow, will pass, and times will change.
The fact that Nayeli and her mother keep this small altar suggests that they idealize Don Pepe and view him as the hero that Nayeli and her mother want and need. When Nayeli mentions that Don Pepe wanted a son, it suggests that she feels unworthy of being a true hero because of her sex. By idealizing her father in this way, Nayeli thinks less of herself. Even though Nayeli is supportive of Irma’s rise to power and wants a “new kind of femininity” to come about, Nayeli still seems to think more highly of male heroism than female heroism.
Themes
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Related Quotes
The next day, news spreads that García-García's cinema will stage a film festival, with Nayeli's mother as the new projectionist. García-García orders Yul Brynner movies to appease Irma. For the first film of the double feature, García-García decides to show a German-dubbed version of Westworld that has Spanish subtitles. Then, because he is the self-proclaimed biggest Steve McQueen fan in Mexico, García-García decides to show one movie that features both Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen: The Magnificent Seven.
The 1973 science fiction film, Westworld, is a motif that carries throughout the novel: the film features robots that malfunction, playing into the novel's exploration of idealization (as represented by the robots) and disillusionment (as represented when the robots malfunction and wreak havoc). Showing the film now foreshadows the disillusionment to come.
Themes
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
García-García's cinema, the Cine Pedro Infante, fills for the festival. Nayeli attends with Tacho and shouts at Vampi and Yolo across the theater. The entirety of Tres Camarones comes, even Pepino, the "town simpleton." Nayeli and Tacho sit behind Tía Irma, who snaps at them to not say stupid things during the movie. Nayeli purchases a soda from Pepino, declines his offer of marriage, and whispers to Tacho that she hates Yul Brynner. Tacho agrees.
It's unclear if Nayeli is aware that Yul Brynner isn't actually Mexican. Regardless, when she and Tacho admit that they hate Yul Brynner, it symbolizes the youth rejecting the misguided and ill-informed nationalism of the older generation.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
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García-García shows cartoons first, and the laughter from the moviegoers is so loud that the bats leave their perches. Irma puts her lighter in the air to scare them off, and then Westworld begins. Nayeli and Tacho groan and giggle, and Irma glares at them. At one point, Irma remarks that Brynner's accent is so slight, you can hardly tell he's Mexican.
As powerful as Irma is, it's telling that she's so caught up in her belief that Yul Brynner is Mexican. It seems that she'll happily bend or ignore the truth in order to see the world as she wants it to be rather than how it is. This illustrates how Irma's idealization blinds her to the realities of the world.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
During intermission, Nayeli lounges with her friends in the aisles as a band plays. Father François tells Nayeli about The Magnificent Seven and explains that it's based on another film called The Seven Samurai. He attempts to explain the premise, but Yolo keeps blurting rude interjections, and Father François gives up. Nayeli follows him back to his seat and he finishes telling her about how, in the film, the villagers go to the US to find seven gunmen to fight off bandidos that threaten their village. Nayeli feels tingles and returns to her seat.
The gender breakdown of these films is telling, as the characters specifically find male gunmen to save the village. Because Nayeli idealizes the world based on the cinematic representations of reality that she sees in movies, Nayeli likely thinks that men will solve their problems, not the strong women who are already in Tres Camarones.
Themes
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
When the movie begins, Nayeli feels more tingles. Irma and García-García engage in a shouting match over who is better, Yul Brynner or Steve McQueen, during a particularly exciting scene, but nobody else in the theater seems to feel the same kind of excitement Nayeli does. When the movie is over, Nayeli pulls out her postcard and drifts out the door. Yolo and Vampi attempt to grab Nayeli, but Nayeli is lost in thought. The girls follow Nayeli to the town square, where she sits down and thinks for a moment.
Nayeli’s tingles suggest that she is thinking about how to apply the fictional films to her own life—perhaps considering how Tres Camarones can obtain their own seven gunmen to save the village from the bandidos. In addition, by pulling out the postcard from her father, who now lives in the US, it seems that Nayeli is also considering how to get him to return to the village as one of the seven. In this way, Nayeli again considers her father to be a hero figure.
Themes
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
Finally, Nayeli says, "The Magnificent Seven." Yolo and Vampi just stare. Nayeli declares that they have to go to the US and bring home seven men, as the bandits are coming, and there's nobody to protect Tres Camarones now that there aren't any cops. Yolo suggests that they bring home only cops or soldiers, and Vampi complains that this will ruin her week's plans. Finally Vampi agrees and suggests that Nayeli can find her father while they're there. All three girls sit, stunned by the plan. They decide that they'll only stay as long as it takes to find the men, and reason that the Americans will be thrilled to have them.
When the girls say that the Americans will be happy to see them, it shows their naivete and blind optimism. For them, the world resembles the world they saw in the film—a world that, notably, is based upon idealized images of the United States, heroism, bad guys who are relatively easy to overthrow. The girls’ distorted perception of reality suggests that their journey will be a shock and will possibly lead to disillusionment with the US.
Themes
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
Nayeli whispers that they'll finally have boyfriends, babies, and no bandidos, and they could even find one gay boy for Tacho. Vampi suggests they take Tacho, and Nayeli says that they're on a mission from God to repopulate the town and save Mexico. The girls give each other high fives and argue about whether to tell Tía Irma.
When Nayeli asserts that this plan will save all of Mexico, it illustrates how sheltered she is, as the idea of reinvigorating the entirety of Mexico by saving one town is fantastical and very clearly overestimates Nayeli's power in the world.
Themes
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Late that night, Irma wakes up to a knock on her door. It's García-García, and he has a black eye. He explains that the bandidos came to his house and threw him out. He asks to sleep at Irma's house. Irma agrees but slams the door after he enters.
This exchange shows the reader that men aren't capable of defending themselves in the face of the bandidos. This casts some doubt on Nayeli's plan, given that she wants to bring back men to save Tres Camarones.
Themes
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Related Quotes