The Tortilla Curtain


T. Coraghessan Boyle

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The Tortilla Curtain: Part 2, Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

This chapter is an excerpt of Delaney’s column, “Pilgrim at Topanga Creek.” In this column Delaney explores different approaches to managing the local coyote population. He writes, “Increasingly, this author has begun to feel that some sort of control must be applied if we continue to insist on encroaching on the coyote’s territory […] If we invade his territory, then why indeed should we be surprised when he invades ours?” He claims that he interviewed the parents of a six-month-old killed by a coyote in a nearby town, and recommends that his readers “Respect [the coyote] as the wild predator he is, keep [their] children and pets inside, leave no food source […] where he can access it.” Despite Delaney’s suggestion to leave coyotes alone, as they are “only trying to survive,” he ends his column on a dark image: “The coyotes keep coming, breeding up to fill in the gaps, moving in where the living is easy. They are cunning, versatile, hungry and unstoppable.”
Delaney’s column on coyotes centers on an extended metaphor in which coyotes stand in for Mexican immigrants. Though Delaney does not take an active stance in this column—he contemplates the pitfalls of “population control,” and offers only the meek suggestion that people respect coyotes’ wild nature—it is clear from his ultimately negative, dark imagery that he holds the same biased views against coyotes that he does against Mexican immigrants. Delany’s language in this column is foreboding and implies an inevitable overthrow of white American society at the hands of coyotes (immigrants) who are rapidly “breeding.”
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