Into the Beautiful North

by

Luis Alberto Urrea

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Several years before the start of the novel, Matt went to Tres Camarones as a missionary, where he won the heart of every woman in town by writing their names phonetically on notecards. He also loved movies and spent every night in the theater with the women. Before he left, he kissed Nayeli. In the present, Matt works in San Francisco, but returns to his mother's home in San Diego to deal with her affairs after her sudden death. He feels lost in life, and he enjoys helping Nayeli and her friends with their mission. Though Nayeli, Yolo, and Vampi believe that Nayeli will surely win Matt's heart, Matt has sex with Yolo instead—though he also seems unaware that Nayeli still harbors feelings for him. Despite the fact that the Tres Camarones group likes Matt, and Matt helps them in a number of ways while they're in the US, Matt is also somewhat racist. For example, when he smokes with Carla, he semi-seriously suggests they call the police on the "illegals" and build a wall on the Mexican-American border.

Matt Quotes in Into the Beautiful North

The Into the Beautiful North quotes below are all either spoken by Matt or refer to Matt. 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 18 Quotes

"You are there to collect Mexicans," Irma reminded her. "Don't fall in love with that missionary!"

"I won't."

"And don't screw him, either. If you give him the milk for free, why would he buy the cow?"

"Tía!"

"Don't bring me any damned American surfers. And don't bring me any American babies. Bring me Mexicans."

Related Characters: Nayeli (speaker), Tía Irma (speaker), Matt
Page Number: 168
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
Get the entire Into the Beautiful North LitChart as a printable PDF.
Into the Beautiful North PDF

Matt Character Timeline in Into the Beautiful North

The timeline below shows where the character Matt appears in Into the Beautiful North. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Racism Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
Tacho and Nayeli carry on with their work. Nayeli thinks about one particular missionary, Matt. All of Nayeli's "notorious girlfriends" loved him, especially since he was the first blonde boy... (full context)
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
Nayeli pulls out Matt's card, which she keeps in her knee sock, to inspect it. It's signed with "love,... (full context)
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
As Nayeli sweeps the floor, she sighs over Matt. Finally, she tosses her broom inside and declares that she's going on the internet—the bar... (full context)
Chapter 4
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...a sauce for the crabs and wearing a sarong. The girls reminisce about the time Matt came crabbing with them and a crab pinched his toe, and the girls argue about... (full context)
Chapter 8
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Later, Nayeli packs her belongings. She tucks Matt's card and the phone number from Irma into her pocket, and her mother insists she... (full context)
Chapter 12
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
...morning, the group returns to the street. Yolo and Tacho discuss how they both loved Matt, and Tacho calls Nayeli promiscuous for kissing Matt. Nayeli leads them to a metal wall.... (full context)
Chapter 15
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
...next day. Coyotes (crossing guides) mill around, and Christian missionaries drive through. Nayeli watches for Matt. (full context)
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...attempts to soothe them. Tacho insists that he's going, and when Nayeli suggests they call Matt once they cross, Yolo and Vampi agree to go. (full context)
Chapter 18
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...postcard and reads her father's message, "everything passes." Then, she pulls out her card from Matt. She notices that Yolo is awake and is also looking at her card from Matt.... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...sighs, ignores her, and says that they're going back across the border and will call Matt when they get there. Irma curses and calls Matt a "simp" before reminding Nayeli of... (full context)
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...door, and they discuss the phone call to Irma with Nayeli. They decide to call Matt when they get to the US, but they agree that they don't want to cross... (full context)
Chapter 19
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...sit at the end of the tunnel and argue about going to Kankakee and visiting Matt. Suddenly, they hear a scraping above and a male voice tells them to climb up.... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...want to do now that they're in America. Nayeli wants to find her father and Matt, Yolo wants to find Matt and Tacho, and Atómiko declares he wants to go to... (full context)
Chapter 20
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
The narrator introduces Ma Johnston, Matt's mother. She lives in a duplex, and after leaving her garbage cans out for several... (full context)
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
Matt pulls into the Jack in the Box parking lot in Ma Johnston's minivan. Nayeli, Yolo,... (full context)
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Matt is prepared to apologize for Ma Johnston's home, but Atómiko whistles and the girls declare... (full context)
Chapter 21
Racism Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
...he arrives in Tijuana, Tacho calls Tía Irma. She explains that Nayeli supposedly went to Matt's house, but she doesn't know if she made it. Tacho vows to cross the border... (full context)
Chapter 22
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
Late at night, Atómiko and Matt giggle drunkenly in Matt's living room. They speak a strange mixture of Spanish and English... (full context)
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Atómiko tells Matt about a woman who once showed him her breasts, but Matt barely listens. He announces... (full context)
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...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. When he... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Later, Matt drives the group to get pancakes. Nayeli tries to explain what a pancake is to... (full context)
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Back at Ma Johnston's house, Matt and Yolo search the phone book for Chavarín. They find a Salvador Chavarín, and Yolo... (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... (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... (full context)
Borders and Ownership Theme Icon
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
...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 is engaged... (full context)
Chapter 24
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Rigoberto buys Tacho lunch and then passes him a cell phone to call Irma and Matt. Rigoberto later drops Tacho off at a visitors' center. They gruffly say goodbye, and Tacho... (full context)
Chapter 25
Racism Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
Later that night, Matt escapes to Carla's side of the duplex. They pass a bong back and forth, and... (full context)
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,... (full context)
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
Chava accepted the girls' invitation to come for dinner, and as he drives to Matt's house, he realizes the girls delight him. He misses Tres Camarones and Irma, and he... (full context)
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
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 yard. Atómiko pulls... (full context)
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...Nayeli can barely listen; she tries to rationalize that she never staked a claim on Matt. Carla finally says that Tía Irma called to say she's in a hotel in San... (full context)
Chapter 26
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...of the pool, thinking that nobody knows she's here. She feels like she lost Yolo, Matt, and Vampi, and she wonders if she'll lose Irma now that Chava is in the... (full context)
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
Matt spreads out his road atlas and helps Tacho and Nayeli plan their route. Yolo watches... (full context)
Chapter 27
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...desert between San Diego and Las Vegas is dull, brown, and dusty. Nayeli flips through Matt's Spanish-English dictionary, learning as many words in Spanish as she does in English. Tacho tries... (full context)
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...are more brutal. They reach their first turnoff point, which is the world's biggest thermometer. Matt laughed when he told him about it, but Tacho doesn't get why it's so funny.... (full context)
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...it funny, and she drags him out of the shop. They find the motel that Matt booked for them and sign in as Shakira and Ricky Martin and then eat dinner... (full context)
Chapter 31
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...Vampi sit with Irma as well, and El Brujo and Atómiko act as security guards. Matt and Angel sit in the corner, and Matt wonders how Nayeli is doing on her... (full context)
Chapter 33
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...Irma's number. Irma shares that Yolo decided she wants to stay in the US with Matt—but Matt doesn't want her to stay. Nayeli is shocked. (full context)