The Tortilla Curtain


T. Coraghessan Boyle

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Tortilla Curtain can help.

The Tortilla Curtain Characters

Delaney Mossbacher

Delaney is Kyra’s husband and the stepfather of Jordan. Delaney leads a very comfortable, upper-middle-class life in the private community of Arroyo Blanco Estates in a suburb of Los Angeles. Of the novel’s… read analysis of Delaney Mossbacher

Kyra Menaker-Mossbacher

Kyra is Delaney’s wife and the mother of Jordan. Kyra is a realtor and is wholly dedicated to her work. She loves the high she gets when she sells a house, and is… read analysis of Kyra Menaker-Mossbacher

Cándido Rincón

Cándido is América’s husband and the father of Socorro. At 33 years of age, Cándido is extremely superstitious and considers himself a cursed man. After his failed first marriage to América’s older sister… read analysis of Cándido Rincón

América Rincón

América is Cándido’s wife, the mother of Socorro, and the sister of Resurrección. She is seventeen years old and four months pregnant at the start of the novel. América is incredibly resilient… read analysis of América Rincón


Cándido and América’s infant daughter, born in a toolshed just outside the wall surrounding the Arroyo Blanco Estates. Socorro’s name means “help” in Spanish. Socorro is born blind, which América believes is the result… read analysis of Socorro
Get the entire The Tortilla Curtain LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Tortilla Curtain PDF

José Navidad

The villain of the novel, José and his unnamed companion (sometimes referred to as the Indian) rape América when they encounter her on a trail leading into the canyon. José’s name is mentioned only once… read analysis of José Navidad


Cándido’s first wife and América’s older sister. After seven years of Cándido spending most of each year working in the United States, Resurrección leaves him for an alcoholic man named Teófilo Aguadulceread analysis of Resurrección

Jack Jardine

President of the Arroyo Blanco Estates Property Owners’ Association, and Delaney and Kyra’s neighbor. A lawyer by trade, Jack Jardine is also openly racist; it is he who uses the phrase “the tortilla curtain.”… read analysis of Jack Jardine

Jack Jr.

Jack Jardine’s eighteen-year-old son. Jack Jr. and his unnamed friend destroy América and Cándido’s camp in the canyon and graffiti it with the words “Beaners Die.” Jack Jr. also tells racist jokes, and… read analysis of Jack Jr.

Jack Cherrystone

Secretary of Arroyo Blanco Estates Property Owners’ Association. Jack Cherrystone is known for his loud voice, which he uses in his work narrating Hollywood movie trailers. Though not as blatantly bigoted as Jack Jardineread analysis of Jack Cherrystone

Jim Shirley

A resident of Arroyo Blanco Estates and occasional employer of América Rincón. On the first day that América works for him, Shirley predatorily places his hand in her lap while driving her home; the… read analysis of Jim Shirley

Dominick Flood

A client of Jack Jardine’s, Flood is on house arrest in his home in Arroyo Blanco Estates due to his involvement in “unwise investments.” Flood is instrumental in having the labor exchange shut down… read analysis of Dominick Flood

Kenny Grissom

A car salesman, visited twice by Delaney: first, after he hits Cándido with his car, and second, after his car is stolen. Kenny is goofy and focused almost exclusively on making sales. Like almost… read analysis of Kenny Grissom

Todd Sweet

A resident of Arroyo Blanco Estates. Delaney first sees Sweet at the community meeting to discuss the gate. Sweet is one of the only people who opposes the gate, saying: “It goes against my grain… read analysis of Todd Sweet
Minor Characters
Kyra’s son and Delaney’s stepson. At six years old, Jordan is fond of watching TV and playing video games.
Candelario Pérez
Headman of the labor exchange. Candelario is kind to América and Cándido, and advocates for them to secure work.
An alcoholic white woman whom América encounters at the labor exchange and with whom she works for one day at Jim Shirley’s house.
Señor Willis
An old white man who employs Cándido in construction. Señor Willis speaks some Spanish and is most likely an alcoholic.
Al Lopez
A handyman who has worked for Kyra in the past, and who redoes the Mossbachers’ fence after Sacheverell is killed. Lopez hires Cándido to work on the fence replacement.
Teófilo Aguadulce
The man for whom Cándido’s first wife, Resurrección, leaves him. Cándido challenges Teófilo to a public fight, and Teófilo beats him easily.
Delaney’s first wife. Little detail is given about Louise, but Delaney does reveal that he and Louise made the shared decision to terminate a pregnancy at some point in their marriage.
A friend of Cándido’s. Hilario and Cándido used to work together in Iowa but were separated in Oregon en route to California. Cándido visits Los Angeles for the first time thanks to Hilario, whose cousin gives Cándido a job gardening.
Cándido’s aunt. Lupe helped raise Cándido after his mother died and his father remarried.
Kyra’s mother, who lives in San Francisco. She comes to visit, and is seduced by Dominick Flood, who takes advantage of Kit by planting his house arrest ankle bracelet on her so that he can escape California.
Mike Bender
Kyra’s business partner.
Erna Jardine
Wife of Jack Jardine.
Selda Cherrystone
Wife of Jack Cherrystone.
Sacheverell and Osbert
The Mossbacher family dogs, originally belonging to Kyra. Both are Dandie Dinmont terriers, and both are killed by coyotes despite the fence that Kyra installs, and later heightens, to keep coyotes out of their yard.
Dame Edith
The Mossbachers’ Siamese cat, originally belonging to Kyra. Dame Edith visits América and Cándido in the toolshed when América is in labor, and again in the hut that Cándido builds in the hills. América is particularly fond of Dame Edith, referring to her as a “saint” and her “midwife.”