Characters like Delaney and Kyra repeatedly cite the local coyote population around Arroyo Blanco as reason the community should be gated or walled. By the time the Mossbachers’ second dog, Osbert, is killed by a coyote, it is clear that these animals have, consciously or unconsciously in the minds of the white characters, come to represent the ostensible threat posed by undocumented Mexican immigrants to the community. In his nature column, “Pilgrim at Topanga Creek,” Delaney describes the coyotes as “cunning, versatile, hungry and unstoppable” and frets about the potential for the coyotes to “invade” human territory; this language mirrors the way Delaney thinks about the Mexican immigrant population that seems to be growing in the areas surrounding Arroyo Blanco. Furthermore, despite the fact that stories of humans being attacked by coyotes appear to be merely apocryphal (no one in Arroyo Blanco has actually been hurt, and the Mossbachers are the only people whose pets have been killed), Delaney devotes a significant portion of his column to discussing the threat that coyotes pose to people. This further suggests that Delaney is mentally conflating coyotes and Mexican immigrants, using the former as a veiled way to discuss and malign the latter. To humans themselves, however, coyotes pose a minimal threat. Despite the fact that Cándido and América are living in the canyon, only one coyote approaches their camp; seen only by América, this coyote is a mother and América feels intense empathy for her. Like the coyote, América feels that men are her enemy—men like Jim Shirley and José Navidad, who have both recently molested or raped her. América’s encounter with the mother coyote suggests that, if coyotes and Mexican immigrants are at all alike, it is not for the reasons Delaney thinks; rather, it is because, in the world of white, suburban America, both coyotes and undocumented Mexican immigrants are outsiders, considered by those more privileged to be sub-human.
Coyotes Quotes in The Tortilla Curtain
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.