The Tortilla Curtain

by

T. Coraghessan Boyle

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Kyra Menaker-Mossbacher Character Analysis

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 acutely aware of any potential threats to the value of her properties—including those she perceives to be posed by the immigrants, whom she sees as a blight on her community, decreasing property values. Of the novel’s four main characters, Kyra has the fewest sections dedicated to her perspective; as such, she is a less fully developed character than her counterparts. She is described as a driven, highly motivated person who is almost exclusively career-oriented. Her over-the-top concern of her own dogs, Sacheverell and Osbert, contrasts rather ridiculously with the callousness she shows toward other humans (specifically, the immigrants who come to the labor exchange in her suburb to look for work). Both of her dogs are eaten by coyotes, prompting her to obsess over the height of a fence around her yard that is meant to keep coyotes out; this fence thus becomes a direct parallel for the wall around Arroyo Blanco Estates, which is meant to protect the community from the vague threat they feel is posed by immigrants such as Cándido and América. Kyra exhibits many of the same tendencies toward racism as her husband and the other members of her community.

Kyra Menaker-Mossbacher Quotes in The Tortilla Curtain

The The Tortilla Curtain quotes below are all either spoken by Kyra Menaker-Mossbacher or refer to Kyra Menaker-Mossbacher. 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 2, Chapter 1 Quotes

Still, this congregation was disturbing. There had to be a limit, a boundary, a cap, or they’d be in Calabasas next and then Thousand Oaks and on and on up the coast till there was no real estate left. That’s what she was thinking, not in any heartless or calculating way—everybody had a right to live—but in terms of simple business sense […].

Related Characters: Kyra Menaker-Mossbacher
Page Number: 159
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2, Chapter 3 Quotes

Kyra looked down at her plate as if uncertain how to go on. “Remember I told you about all those people gathering there on the streetcorners—day laborers?”

“Mexicans,” Delaney said, and there was no hesitation anymore, no reluctance to identify people by their ethnicity, no overlay of liberal-humanist guilt. Mexicans, there were Mexicans everywhere.

Related Characters: Delaney Mossbacher (speaker), Kyra Menaker-Mossbacher (speaker)
Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:
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Kyra Menaker-Mossbacher Character Timeline in The Tortilla Curtain

The timeline below shows where the character Kyra Menaker-Mossbacher 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
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
...Grissom’s dealership, where he claims to have hit a dog. Privately, Delaney calls his wife, Kyra, and tells her he hit “a Mexican.” Kyra immediately suggests Delaney inform Jack Jardine, the... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 3
The Natural World Theme Icon
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
...breakfast for his stepson, Jordan. He will then take Jordan to school while his wife, Kyra, leaves for her real estate job. Delaney will return home and work on his monthly... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
Kyra enters the kitchen and converses briefly with Delaney. The two then hear a prolonged scream... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
...that morning. He has Sacheverell’s mangled leg in the pocket of his windbreaker. That morning, Kyra insisted Delaney “find the dog at all cost,” though she does not yet know her... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 5
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
...is distracted from his worried musing when he sees the bedroom light on and realizes Kyra is waiting up for him to have sex, since she finds “the little tragedies of... (full context)
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Delaney and Kyra begin to have sex. Mid-intercourse, Kyra asks Delaney to tell her once and for all... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
For the first time, the narration shifts to Kyra’s perspective. It is the morning after Sacheverell’s death and Kyra is feeling “worn and depleted”... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Mid-morning, Kyra arrives at one of the houses she is showing. She finds that the front porch... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Time jumps ahead to that afternoon. Kyra has not sold any houses and she leaves work early with a headache. In her... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 7
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
The narration switches to Kyra’s perspective. She is showing the Da Ros house to a wealthy couple who is hoping... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
...canyon road to a pay phone, from which he calls the police. He then calls Kyra and tells her, “They stole my car.” When Kyra asks who “they” is, Delaney “[tries]... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 1
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Delaney buys a new car from Kenny and heads to his lunch date with Kyra. When he arrives at the restaurant and has the valet park his car, Delaney realizes... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Kyra and Delaney eat a quick lunch because Kyra needs to leave to close a house.... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
In the parking lot, Delaney comes to think of Kyra as “glorious in her outrage, a saint, a crusader.” For a moment, he forgets about... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
The narration switches to Kyra’s perspective. She is going about her afternoon, stopping in at her office and driving around... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Back outside, Kyra crosses to the corner where the men are standing and looks around, conscious of the... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Kyra stops home at Arroyo Blanco to see how Al Lopez and his team are doing... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Later in the day, Kyra heads to the Da Ros house to close it for the night. She notices a... (full context)
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
Kyra accuses the men of trespassing, but José’s demeanor quickly makes her nervous. When José questions... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 3
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
...for the fact that “life [has] settled back onto an easy even keel.” Over dinner Kyra announces to Delaney that she has collaborated with her coworker, Mike Bender, to “[clean] up... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
Kyra’s announcement makes Delaney remember an evening he spent with Jack Jardine two nights prior. Jack... (full context)
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
The narration returns to the dinner scene, with Delaney reflecting on the fact that “Kyra had cleaned up the corner of Shoup and Ventura, and Dominick Flood had cleaned up... (full context)
The Natural World Theme Icon
Delaney suggests that he, Kyra, and Jordan go see a movie. The family is discussing the logistics of this when... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 6
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
The narration shifts to Kyra’s perspective. It is seven o’clock in the evening and she is on her way to... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
After agreeing to join the wall committee, Kyra shared the news with Delaney. Delaney was furious, saying: “This isn’t about coyotes, don’t kid... (full context)
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
Kyra reflects on all of this as she enters the Da Ros property. She still feels... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
Violence Against Women Theme Icon
...will probably grow up to be like these boys. “That’s what he’d tried to tell Kyra over this wall business,” Delaney thinks. “It might keep them out, but look what it... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
...Delaney heads home. He dreads being alone (Jordan is at his maternal grandmother’s house and Kyra is out working). He reflects on his marriage to Kyra; Delaney desperately wants to have... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
...he knows his home life will continue to suffer if he takes a stand against Kyra. He is close to agreeing to help Sweet argue against the wall but then he... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
...he encountered in the canyon, and he suddenly realizes this must be the same person Kyra saw on the Da Ros property. Delaney confronts José and tells him, “This is private... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 8
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
That evening, Delaney accompanies Kyra to the Da Ros place to close it, as he has done every night since... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
On the way home, Delaney and Kyra stop at the supermarket to purchase food for Thanksgiving. Delaney’s spirits begin to lift; he... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 1
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
The Natural World Theme Icon
The narration shifts to Delaney’s perspective. It is Thanksgiving Day and Delaney and Kyra are dressing for a cocktail party at Dominick Flood’s house. Kyra’s mother, Kit, will also... (full context)
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
The narration shifts to Kyra’s perspective, and slightly backward in time. Kyra is enjoying herself at the party; she is... (full context)
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
...narration shifts to Delaney’s perspective. Though he does not consider himself an “alarmist,” Delaney rushes Kyra home to check on Jordan. He reflects on the previous autumn, when he and his... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 3
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
The narration shifts to Delaney’s perspective. Delaney, Kyra, and Jordan are gathered “behind [a] police barrier at the top of Topanga Canyon,” along... (full context)
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
...As the family settles back in, Jordan searches frantically for the cat, Dame Edith, and Kyra begins making calls about her real estate properties. She gets word that the Da Ros... (full context)
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
Belonging and the American Dream Theme Icon
At that moment, Kyra’s mother, Kit, enters the room. In her hand she is holding Dominick Flood’s ankle bracelet,... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 5
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
The narration shifts to Kyra’s perspective. It is two days after the fire and Kyra is driving to check on... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
...Delaney’s perspective. He is just returning home with Jordan, having taken Kit to the airport. Kyra is home from the Da Ros place and tells Delaney about how angry she is... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Delaney convinces Kyra that they should “try and forget” about the fire, and suggests that they take a... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Jack takes Delaney and Kyra to the wall, which has been tagged with spray-painted symbols. Jack describes the symbols as... (full context)
Anger, Hatred, and Bigotry Theme Icon
Fate, Luck, and Egotism Theme Icon
...second rainstorm Delaney does not stake out the wall, instead enjoying a date night with Kyra. In the morning he finds that his cameras have been tripped. He goes to the... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 7
The Natural World Theme Icon
The narration shifts to Kyra’s perspective. She is driving through the rain to pick up Jordan at a friend’s house.... (full context)