Into the Beautiful North

by

Luis Alberto Urrea

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Atómiko Character Analysis

Atómiko is a colorful figure that Nayeli meets in the dump in Tijuana. He's the self-professed king of the dump and believes he's a samurai. As such, he carries a "samurai staff," which is a six-foot length of bamboo with a gearshift epoxied in one end. It's a lethal weapon, and Atómiko wields it proudly. Atómiko has an overblown sense of his own prowess and importance; he asserts himself in Nayeli's group, demands to accompany them on their quest, and insists that they need a hero such as himself in order to make it to the US. Though Nayeli finds Atómiko generally obnoxious, she sometimes finds his presence comforting, and his skill with his staff comes in handy on several occasions. Irma doesn't like Atómiko at first but decides he'd be a great policeman if she could convince him to return to Tres Camarones. Though Atómiko does return with Nayeli and the other men, he also misses his life in the dump at several points throughout the novel. He took a great deal of care building his shack and his fence, and he made friends with dump dogs.

Atómiko Quotes in Into the Beautiful North

The Into the Beautiful North quotes below are all either spoken by Atómiko or refer to Atómiko. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Little, Brown and Company edition of Into the Beautiful North published in 2010.
Chapter 22 Quotes

"Welcome to the United States," Velma shouted at them as if they were deaf.

Everyone smiled warmly, wondering if she was mad at them.

Related Characters: Velma (speaker), Nayeli, Vampi, Yolo, Atómiko, Matt
Page Number: 213
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 31 Quotes

"Brother," one of the men said, "take us back to Mexico.

"Please," said another.

The voices rose.

"It is too hard. We want to go home."

"We just need jobs."

Related Characters: Tía Irma, Atómiko
Page Number: 299
Explanation and Analysis:
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Into the Beautiful North PDF

Atómiko Character Timeline in Into the Beautiful North

The timeline below shows where the character Atómiko appears in Into the Beautiful North. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 14
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
This man is the warrior Atómiko. He's the "master of the dompe," with baggy pants, a sleeveless white undershirt, and exposed... (full context)
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Atómiko introduces himself, but Nayeli continues to brush him off and walk further away. The narrator... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
...their hands to block Nayeli, and one asks her for a kiss. Out of nowhere, Atómiko's staff comes down on the man's head. The other zombie watches as if hypnotized before... (full context)
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Atómiko follows Nayeli to a small bodega, where she calls Irma. Irma doesn't pick up, and... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
...the roses, while Yolo and Porfirio drink a cocktail made with the rum. Tacho tells Atómiko the group's story, and finally, Atómiko confirms that they're serious about sneaking illegally into the... (full context)
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
Atómiko ends his speech by saying that the group needs a warrior like him to accompany... (full context)
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
A man named Wino jumps out of the car and jokes with Atómiko and Tacho in broken English. Nayeli tries to decline Wino and Atómiko's help, but Tacho... (full context)
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
Nayeli dislikes Atómiko, but Tacho, Yolo, and Vampi insist on allowing him to come. Atómiko tells Nayeli he's... (full context)
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
Atómiko and Wino negotiate with a coyote. The girls are scared of the coyote, and Tacho... (full context)
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Atómiko promises that if Nayeli and the group get caught, he'll meet them at the deportee... (full context)
Chapter 16
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
...should travel east towards San Diego. The group climbs up to the road and soon, Atómiko joins them. As they walk, they loudly argue about attractive American actors. They hide from... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
...from the south. The entire group looks to see the light of the helicopter illuminating Atómiko, who appears to want to fight the helicopter. In Spanish, Anderson asks Tacho what's up... (full context)
Chapter 18
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
...in Los Angeles than in the Mexican city of Culiacán. Nayeli looks up and sees Atómiko waiting for them. He leads the girls through the streets to a juice stand and... (full context)
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...and decide to call him. Nayeli pulls on her clothes and is irritated to find Atómiko outside her room with Wino. She finds a payphone and calls Irma. When Irma picks... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
Irma suddenly asks about Atómiko and Tacho. Nayeli sighs, ignores her, and says that they're going back across the border... (full context)
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
Back in the hallway, Wino and Atómiko lament Tacho's fate. Yolo and Vampi open the door, and they discuss the phone call... (full context)
Chapter 19
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
...entranced, but Nayeli fears that they're going to be raped and killed. Strangely, she finds Atómiko's presence comforting, as she doesn't believe he'd allow Wino to hurt them. Wino leads the... (full context)
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
When everybody is in the tunnel, Atómiko whistles that he could make a million dollars off of the tunnel. The man laughs... (full context)
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Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
When they reach the end of the tunnel, Atómiko mentions that he could use some cocaine. The girls are in awe; they've never met... (full context)
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...around and wander out of the lot. They come to a playground, and Vampi and Atómiko swing on the swings. They laugh as they walk, entranced by the clean sidewalks and... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...wants to find her father and Matt, Yolo wants to find Matt and Tacho, and Atómiko declares he wants to go to Disneyland. The girls stare and giggle, and Atómiko says... (full context)
Chapter 20
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
...They exchange pesos for dollars, and Nayeli buys everyone food. The girls order tacos while Atómiko orders burgers and pie. (full context)
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...the teenagers they were when he last saw them. He doesn't like the look of Atómiko but allows him to come back to the duplex too. (full context)
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Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Matt is prepared to apologize for Ma Johnston's home, but Atómiko whistles and the girls declare the place a palace. Atómiko makes himself at home by... (full context)
Chapter 22
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Late at night, Atómiko and Matt giggle drunkenly in Matt's living room. They speak a strange mixture of Spanish... (full context)
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Atómiko tells Matt about a woman who once showed him her breasts, but Matt barely listens.... (full context)
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...morning, Nayeli, Yolo, and Vampi quietly wash their clothes. They giggle at how fast asleep Atómiko and Matt are—the girls are dressed and drinking coffee before the boys move at all.... (full context)
Chapter 23
Racism Theme Icon
In the present, Matt drives Yolo, Nayeli, and Atómiko to the Hillcrest bowling alley. Nayeli takes Matt's arm as they walk in and ask... (full context)
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Yolo and Matt bowl while Atómiko insults them, and Nayeli and Chava talk. He tells her how he betrayed Irma. Nayeli... (full context)
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Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
...him back, and he agrees to join the girls on their mission. When Nayeli, Yolo, Atómiko, and Matt get back to the duplex, Vampi and Carla are grilling, and El Brujo... (full context)
Chapter 25
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
At Matt's house, El Brujo fries beans and meat and Tacho blasts disco music. Atómiko sits outside, smoking, drinking, and reminiscing about his parents and the dump. He had a... (full context)
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Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
...Nayeli and Tacho up at eight the next morning. As they head for the car, Atómiko insists on coming and bringing his staff. As they drive, Chava explains that he met... (full context)
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
...fields of flowers. He pulls over next to a barrier, and he, Nayeli, Tacho, and Atómiko each grab a bag of groceries. Chava muses that they're in the richest city of... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
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...camp. Jimbo pushes Angel to his knees, spits, and declares that the "mud people" stink. Atómiko burps and marvels that all the migrants all look terrified of these "thugs." He casually... (full context)
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Atómiko continues to taunt Sully and Jimbo in his broken English, which Nayeli struggles to understand.... (full context)
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Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
Chava drops Tacho, Nayeli, and Atómiko back at Matt's house around midnight. They find Carla in an inflatable pool in the... (full context)
Chapter 26
Racism Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
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...staying. Irma greets them in the lobby with kisses, though she slaps Tacho. She notices Atómiko and El Brujo outside and asks what they are, and before Nayeli can respond, Irma... (full context)
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
...thinking that romance is no way to run a government operation. She finds she likes Atómiko and thinks he'd be a policeman if she could convince him to come to Tres... (full context)
Chapter 29
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...floor, he tiptoes towards her room and imagines running away. As he prepares to knock, Atómiko bursts out of Irma's door and heads down the hallway. (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
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Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
Chava hears Irma call him from inside, and he retreats to the elevator. Atómiko sends Chava back towards Irma's room before getting into the elevator. Irma yells again, and... (full context)
Chapter 31
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...in the morning in San Diego, Irma waits at a table in a conference room. Atómiko drinks all the coffee he possibly can, and Irma indulges him when he asks for... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
...employee pokes his head back in and says that there are many men still waiting. Atómiko goes to the lobby to inspect and finds an entire line of Mexican men. They... (full context)
Epilogue
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...an army. From the distance, the women and Pepino hear the "monkey" yell, "I am Atómiko!" The women smile and know change has arrived. (full context)