The Tortilla Curtain

by

T. Coraghessan Boyle

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América Rincón Character Analysis

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. Though she is close to her mother and extremely connected to her life and culture in Tepoztlán, América is emotionally devoted to Cándido and supports him in his effort to make a better life for his family and immigrates with him to the States despite being pregnant. América even tolerates Cándido’s physical abuse of her because she understands that it comes from a place of “frustration” and “fear.” Nevertheless, América does express frustration at Cándido’s frequent ineptitude, and she stands up to him when he tries to forbid her from seeking work to support them when they need it most. After José Navidad and his friend rape her, América becomes depressed and fearful of leaving their secluded camp. Though she is fiercely strong, she is also an emotionally guarded character, rarely expressing her true feelings to her husband or others. Still, her rich inner life, her hopefulness, and her imperviousness to the hatred directed at her by others make her the emotional heart of the novel.

América Rincón Quotes in The Tortilla Curtain

The The Tortilla Curtain quotes below are all either spoken by América Rincón or refer to América Rincón. 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:
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of The Tortilla Curtain published in 1996.
Part 1, Chapter 4 Quotes

He sat up and railed […] he told her his fears, outlined the wickedness of the gabacho world and the perfidy of his fellow braceros at the labor exchange, tried to work the kind of apprehension into her heart that would make her stay here with him, where it was safe, but she wouldn’t listen. Or rather, she listened—“I’m afraid,” she told him, “afraid of this place and the people in it, afraid to walk out on the street”—but it had no effect.

Related Characters: Cándido Rincón, América Rincón
Related Symbols: The Canyon Road
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1, Chapter 6 Quotes

His skin was light, so light he could almost have passed for one of them, but it was his eyes that gave him away, hard burnished unblinking eyes the color of calf’s liver. He’d been damaged somehow, she could see that, damaged in the way of a man who has to scrape and grovel and kiss the hind end of some irrecusable yankee boss, and his eyes showed it, jabbing out at the world like two weapons. He was Mexican, all right.

Related Characters: América Rincón, José Navidad
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1, Chapter 8 Quotes

A moment ago she’d been out there on the road, exposed and vulnerable—frightened, always frightened—and now she was safe. But the thought of that frightened her too: what kind of life was it when you felt safe in the bushes, crouching to piss in the dirt like a dog? Was that what she’d left Tepoztlán for?

Related Characters: América Rincón
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:

There, in the quickening night, with his dirty fingers inside her as if they belonged there and the Indian waiting his turn, he stopped to put a stick of gum in his mouth and casually drop the wrapper on the exposed skin of her back, no more concerned than if he were sitting on a stool in a bar.

Related Characters: América Rincón, José Navidad
Page Number: 141-2
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 2 Quotes

She looked at that coyote so long and so hard that she began to hallucinate, to imagine herself inside those eyes looking out, to know that men were her enemies—men in uniform, men with their hats reversed, men with fat bloated hands and fat bloated necks, men with traps and guns and poisoned bait—and she saw the den full of pups and the hills shrunk to nothing under the hot quick quadrupedal gait. She never moved. Never blinked. But finally, no matter how hard she stared, she realized the animal was no longer there.

Related Characters: América Rincón
Related Symbols: Coyotes
Page Number: 179
Explanation and Analysis:

Seventeen years old, and she was the one who’d found work when he couldn’t, she was the one who’d had them sniffing after her like dogs, she was the one whose husband made her live in a hut of sticks and then called her a liar, a whore and worse. But as he lay there […] he knew how it was going to be, how it had to be, knew he would follow her into that hut and slap his own pain out of her, and that was so sick and so bad he wanted nothing more in that moment than to die.

Related Characters: Cándido Rincón, América Rincón
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 4 Quotes

There was a long silence, and she knew they were both thinking about that inadmissible day and what she couldn’t tell him and how he knew it in his heart and how it shamed him. If they lived together a hundred years she could never bring that up to him, never go further than she just had. Still, how could he argue with the fact of that? This was no safe haven, this was the wild woods.

Related Characters: Cándido Rincón, América Rincón
Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 7 Quotes

The baby moved inside her and her stomach dipped and fluttered. All she wanted was to belong in one of those houses, any of them, even for a night. The people who lived in those houses had beds to stretch out on, they had toilets that flushed and hot and cold running water, and most important of all, they were home, in their own private space, safe from the world.

Related Characters: América Rincón
Page Number: 233
Explanation and Analysis:

All she could see was the image of those animals at the border, the half-a-gringo and his evil eyes and filthy insinuating fingers, the fat white man with his fat white hands, and she withdrew into herself, dwelled there deep inside where nobody could touch her. “Hey, baby,” they called when they saw her there trying to melt into the darkness, “hey, ruca, hey, sexy, ¿quieres joder conmigo?

Page Number: 234
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3, Chapter 8 Quotes

América was screaming and the baby was screaming and he could hear his own voice raised in a thin mournful drone, and that was nothing compared to the shrieks of the uprooted trees and the nightmarish roar of the boulders rolling along beneath them.

Related Characters: Cándido Rincón, América Rincón, Socorro
Page Number: 353
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Tortilla Curtain PDF

América Rincón Character Timeline in The Tortilla Curtain

The timeline below shows where the character América Rincón appears in The Tortilla Curtain. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 2
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
...stuck in a garbage dump in Tijuana after failing to cross the US border with América. (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
The narration shifts to América’s perspective. She finds Cándido, her husband, unconscious at the bottom of the path. América has... (full context)
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
The narration returns to Cándido’s perspective. Still only half conscious, Cándido watches América cooking something over a fire and recalls his  childhood in Tepoztlán, Mexico, and his mother’s... (full context)
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
...work. On the fourth morning after Cándido’s accident (and about three weeks since Cándido and América first made camp in the canyon), América decides to leave camp and look for work... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 4
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
The narration is now from Cándido’s perspective. It is the day after América first went to the labor exchange to look for work. She did not find work... (full context)
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
...Cándido returned home to his father-in-law’s house to find his wife and her family absent. América, Resurrección’s youngest sister and eleven years old at the time, was the only person present.... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
...for a few centavos and a few centavos more.” One day Cándido ran into sixteen-year-old América, who asked if he recognized her. Cándido replied, “You’re América […] and I’m going to... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
Lying in the canyon, Cándido now begins to worry about América, who has not yet returned from the labor exchange. Still in intense pain from his... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
The narration shifts back in time to América’s perspective earlier in the day. Sitting in the shade at the labor exchange, América feels... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
América feels “bored” and “frightened” as she waits and watches men in trucks drive up to... (full context)
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
Unable to find Candelario Pérez, América soon learns that the labor exchange closes at noon and she must leave. She wanders... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
Before the men could rape América, however, a helicopter appeared overhead, frightening the men away. América, Cándido, and hundreds of others... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
...that one of them is Jack Jr.) Cándido watches as the boys trash his and América’s camp and destroy their clothes. When the boys leave, Cándido emerges and finds graffiti on... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 6
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
The narration shifts to América’s perspective. She and Cándido have run out of food and América insists on going to... (full context)
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
Despite Cándido’s violent protest, América heads to the labor exchange. There, a man with “hard burnished unblinking eyes the color... (full context)
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
The man introduces himself as José Navidad and asks América’s name. When she refuses to give it, he continues to flirt with her—“come on, loosen... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Two hours later, at nine in the morning, Candelario Pérez calls América over to a car driven by “a giant of a fat man,” with whom Candelario... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
...hoping to avoid further attacks by Jack Jr. and his accomplice. Cándido moves his and América’s belongings half a mile away, to a “private beach” on the far side of the... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Cándido heads to the smaller of two local markets; he and América tend to buy their groceries here and he thinks this might be where she is... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
The narration shifts to América’s perspective. It is six o’clock in the evening and she is still at Jim Shirley’s... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
As Jim Shirley drives out of Arroyo Blanco Estates, where América has been working for the day, América notices the brand-new gate that has been erected... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 7
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
...in the store (which, the reader knows, is the same store frequented by Cándido and América), Delaney runs into Jack Jardine. The two engage in a heated discussion about the newly-erected... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 8
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
...Cándido is currently hiding in the bushes at the edge of the parking lot, hoping América will walk out of the store. (full context)
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
América emerges from a car that pulls up to the grocery store (Jim Shirley’s car). Cándido... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
After shopping together, Cándido and América hike down into the canyon. Cándido is still in pain from his healing injuries but... (full context)
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
The narration shifts to América’s perspective. It is the next morning and she and Cándido are hiking up the canyon... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
América again works on cleaning the Buddhas, and soon realizes—thanks to the burning of her hands... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
América works hard all day, despite the fumes of the corrosive burning her throat. She is... (full context)
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
Cándido does not show up, so América makes her way down the trail into the canyon. When she arrives at the camp... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 1
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
...into the larger grocery store on the street (not the one frequented by Cándido and América). Inside she unproductively questions the cashiers about the men outside. (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 2
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
...to Cándido’s perspective, and backward in time to the day on which José Navidad raped América. It is the afternoon and Cándido is waiting alone in the labor exchange, América having... (full context)
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
...Lopez until ten o’clock at night and then returns to his camp in the canyon. América’s face looks like that “of a stranger” and Cándido notices the welts across her neck... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
The narration shifts to América’s perspective. Since José Navidad raped her, América has been having burning and pain when she... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
One day América sees a female coyote close to the campsite. She looks into the animal’s eyes and... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
...shifts to Cándido’s perspective. It is evening and Cándido is sitting by the campfire, drunk. América is trying on some maternity clothes Cándido bought in Canoga Park, where he has been... (full context)
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
América shows off her new clothes to Cándido and he responds by accosting her with questions... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 4
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
The narration shifts to América’s perspective. Cándido has told her the news of the labor exchange being closed. Though she... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
When América tells Cándido that she hopes to have an apartment in the city—or even a motel... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
The next morning, América packs up the camp and she and Cándido walk for miles into the San Fernando... (full context)
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
América and Cándido eat in a restaurant, where América relishes the experience of washing herself at... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 7
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
The narration shifts to América’s perspective. She is still waiting at the wall for Cándido to return. For the first... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
Unable to find her husband, América returns to the wall. Night has fallen and men are beginning to walk the streets;... (full context)
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
...to dig through the garbage at a fast-food restaurant to find something for him and América to eat. (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
The narration shifts to América’s perspective. Though she is exhausted, América follows Cándido to the gas station and then to... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 8
The Natural World Theme Icon
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
The narration shifts to Cándido’s perspective. He and América are again living in the canyon. América has been catatonic for days, having had a... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
...the gift but as he heads back into the canyon he begins to feel elated. América is pleased by the turkey, and as he works at building a fire, Cándido feels... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 2
The Natural World Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
The narration shifts to América’s perspective, and backward in time. She has not been speaking to Cándido, as she blames... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
...out of the canyon is engulfed in a “forty-foot curtain” of flames. Nevertheless, Cándido drags América along the stream, trying to escape the fire. The two manage to scramble up to... (full context)
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Later that evening, Cándido and América are huddled in the bushes at the rim of the canyon; the fire has died... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
The narration shifts to América’s perspective. She is in labor in the shed, with Cándido doing his best to prepare... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 4
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
...narration shifts to Cándido’s perspective, and backward in time to the night of the fire. América is still in labor and is holding tight to Dame Edith for comfort. Cándido has... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
In the middle of the night, América gives birth. Cándido helps with the birth, including cutting the umbilical cord, and feels “exultant”... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
After several hours of building, Cándido returns to the maintenance shed to fetch América and Socorro. América insists that she wants to “go home to [her] mother” but Cándido... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
...from where it is buried in the canyon so that he can buy food for América, who will be breastfeeding from now on. As he is thinking this over he hears... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 6
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
...fused in  hard shapeless knot of plastic.” Sitting in the canyon, devastated, Cándido considers leaving América and Socorro, thinking that, since the police will be looking for him, “the agent of... (full context)
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
...doesn’t visit—“where they wouldn’t be so sure to recognize him.” Back at the new shelter, América tells Cándido that she wants him to buy her a bus ticket home to Mexico.... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
The narration shifts to América’s perspective. She has been living in the shack for several days, while Cándido goes out... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
One day América tells Cándido that she would like to have Socorro baptized somewhere, and her birth registered.... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
The next day, the rains begin and América feels caught between a desire to “get away, even if it [means] bundling up Socorro... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
The narration shifts to Cándido’s perspective. He and América have been eating cat meat for several days (though Cándido has told her the meat... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 8
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
The narration shifts to América’s perspective. Cándido has just arrived at the shelter and to América he looks as though... (full context)
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
After eating dinner, América tells Cándido that something is wrong with Socorro’s eyes. Cándido insists that América is “crazy.”... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
...was the end, the end of it.” Delaney crashes through the entrance to Cándido and América’s shelter, and before he can take any further action hears “a sound like the wildest... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
...and it is carrying Cándido and his family away with it. Cándido grabs tight to América and Socorro and holds on. As he is “pitched into he blackness of this new... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
...the raging water of Topanga Creek, in the canyon, and he loses his grip on América. He is sucked under the water and is sure he is going to die. “Suddenly,”... (full context)