The Tortilla Curtain

by

T. Coraghessan Boyle

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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, Resurrección, Cándido decides to permanently immigrate to the United States, where he has been seasonally working for almost a decade. Cándido is deeply frustrated and often expresses this frustration in anger and occasionally violence, especially toward América. Cándido believes himself to be a hapless person, and it often seems as if he is. His hopes of obtaining work are dashed when Delaney hits him with his car on the canyon road only a few weeks after Cándido and América have arrived in the States, rendering Cándido unable to work for much of the novel. Even when he experiences a moment of pure luck and is gifted with a Thanksgiving turkey, Cándido manages to accidentally set the canyon where he lives on fire. His frustration with the way he and his wife are treated in this country fills him with anger and strains their relationship, at one point leading him to physically abuse her. Despite his unluckiness and his temper, Cándido remains determined and hardworking throughout the novel, and in its final moments he demonstrates his compassionate nature when he rescues a drowning Delaney from the flooded river.

Cándido Rincón Quotes in The Tortilla Curtain

The The Tortilla Curtain quotes below are all either spoken by Cándido Rincón or refer to Cándido 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 7 Quotes

He felt anger and shame at the same time—the man was a bum, that was all, hassling somebody else now, and yet the look of him, the wordless plea in his eyes and the arm in a sling and the side of his face layered with scab like old paint brought Delaney’s guilt back to the surface, a wound that refused to heal. His impulse was to intercede, to put an end to it, and yet in some perverse way he wanted to see this dark alien little man crushed and obliterated, out of his life forever.

Related Characters: Delaney Mossbacher, Cándido Rincón
Page Number: 105
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1, Chapter 8 Quotes

The water was black, the trees were black, the walls of the canyon black as some deep place inside a man or woman, beneath the skin and bones and all the rest. He felt strangely excited. The crickets chirred. The trees whispered.

Related Characters: Cándido Rincón
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 2 Quotes

His accident had been bad, nearly fatal, but si Dios quiere he would be whole again, or nearly whole, and he understood that a man who had crossed eight lanes of freeway was like the Lord who walked on the waters, and that no man could expect that kind of grace to descend on him more than once in a lifetime.

Related Characters: Cándido Rincón
Page Number: 174
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 3, Chapter 4 Quotes

He felt exultant, infused with a strength and joy that made a mockery of his poverty, his hurts and wants and even the holocaust that had leapt out of his poor cookfire in the depths of the canyon. He had a son, the first of his line, the new generation born on American soil, a son who would have all the gabachos had and more.

Related Characters: Cándido Rincón (speaker)
Page Number: 297
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3, Chapter 6 Quotes

It was beyond irony, beyond questions of sin and culpability, beyond superstition: he couldn’t live in his own country and he couldn’t live in this one either. He was a failure, a fool, a hick who put his trust in a coyote or a cholo with a tattoo on his neck, a man who couldn’t even roast a turkey without burning down half the country in the process.

Related Characters: Cándido Rincón
Page Number: 322
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3, Chapter 7 Quotes

He never gave a thought as to what he was going to do with the Mexican once he caught him—that didn’t matter. None of it mattered. All that mattered was this, was finding him, rooting him out of his burrow and counting his teeth and his toes and the hairs on his head and noting it all down for the record.

Related Characters: Delaney Mossbacher, Cándido Rincón
Page Number: 347
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:

He was beyond cursing, beyond grieving, numbed right through to the core of him. All that, yes. But when he saw the white face surge up out of the black swirl of the current and the white hand grasping at the tiles, he reached down and took hold of it.

Related Characters: Delaney Mossbacher, Cándido Rincón
Page Number: 355
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Tortilla Curtain PDF

Cándido Rincón Character Timeline in The Tortilla Curtain

The timeline below shows where the character Cándido Rincón appears in The Tortilla Curtain. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 1
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
...driving on the canyon road on his way to the recycling center, Delaney Mossbacher hits Cándido Rincón with his car. Delaney searches the nearby bushes and discovers the severely injured Cándido,... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
At the recycling center, Delaney reflects on the accident. He concludes that Cándido must have refused medical care because he is undocumented (“illegal,” as Delaney thinks it). He... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 2
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
The narration shifts to Cándido’s perspective. He has collapsed on the path back into the bushes and is trying to... (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 spent the day in... (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... (full context)
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
Two days pass during which Cándido is feverish and delusional. Finally back in his right mind, Cándido finds that he is... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 3
The Natural World Theme Icon
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
The narration returns to Delaney’s perspective. Four days after hitting Cándido, Delaney is preparing breakfast for his stepson, Jordan. He will then take Jordan to school... (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... (full context)
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
Cándido married Resurrección when he was twenty years old, just after his return to Tepoztlán from... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Cándido travelled to Cuernavaca, where Resurrección was living, and publicly confronted Teófilo Aguadulce, who left Cándido... (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.... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
...Sitting in the shade at the labor exchange, América feels frustrated about the fact that Cándido treats her like a child. She thinks this treatment ironic given that she will give... (full context)
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
...way men stare as she passes. Their leering makes her recall the night she and Cándido attempted to cross the border from Mexico. The coyote—the man América and Cándido had paid... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
...the men could rape América, however, a helicopter appeared overhead, frightening the men away. América, Cándido, and hundreds of others were rounded up by US border control agents and deposited in... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
The narration jumps forward in time to Cándido’s perspective. He is hiding in the canyon from two teenage boys. (The teenagers are described... (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 the labor exchange for... (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... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
The narration shifts to Cándido’s perspective. Though he is still in intense pain from his injuries, Cándido manages to move... (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... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 7
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
...shops. While 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... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
...lot, Delaney witnesses a man berating another man, calling him a “wetback motherfucker.” Delaney recognizes Cándido, and desires “in some perverse way […] to see this dark alien little man crushed... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
The narration returns to Delaney’s perspective. It is the morning after he saw Cándido in the grocery store parking lot and Delaney is still ruminating on the encounter. He... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
...all he can think of is “the bruised face and blunted eyes of his Mexican” (Cándido). Delaney ends the phone call by asking Kyra to call Jack Jardine. (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 8
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
The narration shifts to Cándido’s perspective, and jumps backward in time. Cándido has just seen Delaney in the supermarket parking... (full context)
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
América emerges from a car that pulls up to the grocery store (Jim Shirley’s car). Cándido feels excited but also ashamed: “They would have money to eat, but he hadn’t earned... (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... (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 to the labor exchange. América feels hopeful that she and... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
...this time he does not put his hand in her lap. América does not see Cándido in the grocery store parking lot when Shirley drops her off, and she feels hopeful... (full context)
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
Cándido does not show up, so América makes her way down the trail into the canyon.... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 1
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
...Kyra pulls 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)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
...that will supposedly stop rattlesnakes from entering the yard. While chatting with Al, Kyra spots Cándido, one of the workers; from his limp and his swollen face she recognizes him as... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 2
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
The narration switches to Cándido’s perspective, and backward in time to the day on which José Navidad raped América. It... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
At Arroyo Blanco, Cándido reflects on the first time he came to Topanga Canyon. He was working in Idaho... (full context)
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
In the LA suburb of Canoga Park, Cándido began working as a gardener. Soon, however, Immigration raided his workplace and arrested Cándido along... (full context)
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
Cándido works for Al Lopez until ten o’clock at night and then returns to his camp... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
...longs for her mother and older sisters, who would be able to give her advice. Cándido has barred América from going back to the labor exchange, so for days on end... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
The narration shifts to Cándido’s perspective. It is evening and Cándido is sitting by the campfire, drunk. América is trying... (full context)
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
América shows off her new clothes to Cándido and he responds by accosting her with questions about what José Navidad “took” from her.... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 4
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
The narration shifts to Cándido’s perspective. He has found work intermittently and has managed to save three hundred and twenty... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Cándido is furious, devastated by the fact that he is considered “a criminal for daring to... (full context)
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 works to... (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 room—he insists... (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 Valley. América is “exhilarated, on fire with excitement”... (full context)
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
América and Cándido eat in a restaurant, where América relishes the experience of washing herself at the bathroom... (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 fifteen minutes, she enjoys observing her surroundings: “the city [is]... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
...tries her best to “[withdraw] into herself […] where nobody could touch her.” At midnight, Cándido returns. He has been beaten and robbed of all his money. Thinking of “the woods,... (full context)
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
The narration shifts to Cándido’s perspective. He is incredibly angry, and blames himself for having trusted the man who beat... (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 a KFC located off the canyon road. She... (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... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
Cándido is on the way to the supermarket to purchase food for Thanksgiving, or “El Tenksgeevee.”... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 2
The Natural World Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
...narration shifts to América’s perspective, and backward in time. She has not been speaking to Cándido, as she blames him for “everything from the stale air in the bus on the... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
The narration shifts to Cándido’s perspective. In the face of the fire, Cándido feels “pure gut-clenching terror.” The trail out... (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... (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 for the birth. Though she desperately wants to “cry out... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 4
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
The narration shifts to Cándido’s perspective, and backward in time to the night of the fire. América is still in... (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” at the fact... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
The sun rises. Cándido has stayed awake the entire night, and is relieved that “the fire [has] spared them.”... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
“Five hundred yards up the dry wash that opened out on the development,” Cándido finds a place to make a new camp. As he shuttles his materials from the... (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... (full context)
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
Cándido makes his way across several yards until he arrives in the Mossbachers’ yard. There, he... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
After completing the roof on his new shelter, Cándido sleeps. When he awakens he again thinks about retrieving his money from where it is... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 5
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
...in them: it is “Mexican, but it [is not] the face he’d expected.” It is Cándido’s face, “a face come back to haunt [Delaney] from his dreams.” (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 6
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
The narration shifts to Cándido’s perspective, and backward in time. Three days after the fire, Cándido returns to the canyon... (full context)
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
Eventually, Cándido climbs up to the canyon road and busy groceries from the grocery store he usually... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
...shifts to América’s perspective. She has been living in the shack for several days, while Cándido goes out to look for work, waiting for hours outside the post office (since the... (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. Cándido doesn’t... (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... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
A post office worker comes outside and tells Cándido he has to leave. Cándido asks if the man knows of work he can do... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 7
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
The narration shifts to Delaney’s perspective. He has just spotted Cándido on his way back from the plant nursery—“this Mexican, the man who’d invaded his life... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
...obstructing the road.” After Delaney’s car is towed, he begins walking up the road, following Cándido’s footsteps in the mud. (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
The narration shifts to Delaney’s perspective. He is still walking up the canyon road, tracking Cándido—“his quarry.” He is determined to “[track] this clumsy Mexican all the way to Hell and... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
...Delaney changes out of his wet clothes and heats up some food. He anticipates that Cándido will be easy to find in the rainy hills, because he will have to have ... (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 he “just... (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.” América feels... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
...else; this 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... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
The narration shifts to Cándido’s perspective. The mountain has “turned to pudding, to mush” and it is carrying Cándido and... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Cándido is swept into the raging water of Topanga Creek, in the canyon, and he loses... (full context)