Into the Beautiful North

by

Luis Alberto Urrea

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Postcard Symbol Icon

The postcard that Don Pepe sent Nayeli and her mother several years ago symbolizes Nayeli’s idealism and impending disappointment. The photo on the card is a scared-looking turkey in a cornfield, and the message on the back is Don Pepe's favorite phrase, "everything passes." The anxiety apparent in the image indicates that Kankakee, Illinois isn't the amazing, perfect place Nayeli thinks it is, while "everything passes" suggests that Don Pepe's loyalty to his family passes, just like everything else. Up until Nayeli finds her father, the postcard shows how Nayeli can interpret reality in such a way as to make it fit her worldview, even when all signs indicate that reality isn't as good as the vision in her head. When she leaves the postcard in Kankakee, it represents her symbolically accepting her father's wisdom  that “everything passes” and giving up on her idealized vision of him.

Postcard Quotes in Into the Beautiful North

The Into the Beautiful North quotes below all refer to the symbol of Postcard. 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 7 Quotes

He never said he wished he'd had a son, though she could tell he thought it often.

Related Characters: Nayeli, Don Pepe
Related Symbols: Postcard
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:
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Postcard Symbol Timeline in Into the Beautiful North

The timeline below shows where the symbol Postcard appears in Into the Beautiful North. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...back to work. The narrator explains that along with Matt's card, she also keeps a postcard from her father in her knee sock. It came from Kankakee, Illinois. Her father, Don... (full context)
Chapter 7
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 8
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
...phone number from Irma into her pocket, and her mother insists she take Don Pepe's postcard. Nayeli's mother says she wishes Nayeli could bring Don Pepe back to Tres Camarones, and... (full context)
Chapter 18
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
When Nayeli wakes up, she pulls out her postcard and reads her father's message, "everything passes." Then, she pulls out her card from Matt.... (full context)
Chapter 33
Female Friendship vs. Romance Theme Icon
...receptionist tells her how to make long-distance calls from her room. Nayeli pulls out her postcard and notices that the crease down the middle now forms a lightning bolt through the... (full context)
Chapter 34
Disillusionment and Idealization Theme Icon
Male vs. Female Heroism Theme Icon
...then races to the field. She cries there for an hour, and then tucks her postcard under Don Pepe's windshield wiper and walks away. (full context)