T.C. Boyle integrates nature in the novel The Tortilla Curtain in a number of ways. Evidence of this comes in the symbolic meaning attached to the coyote and other animals throughout the book. The coyote, the most prominent of the animal symbols, stands for the Mexican immigrants who attempt to cross the border into America. Coyotes will go to great lengths, even climbing fences and gates to enter into backyards or forbidden areas to obtain the necessities of life. This is symbolic of the lives of the immigrants as they cross the border, which in many places is marked with a barbwire fence. The immigrants live a life akin to the coyote when they are forced to steal and beg to survive.
Another way nature enters into the novel is through the character Delaney, who writes a column for a nature magazine that demonstrates his passion for animals. In one of his articles, he makes the comparison between the coyotes and the immigrants. He has dealt with both and feels there are many similarities in their lifestyles. The character Candido lives a lifestyle similar to the one Delaney describes in the article. Candido lives off the land. Delany shows his love of animals throughout the book but he does not share the same feelings for the Mexican immigrants.
Topographical nature is brought into the book, which highlights the disparity in the living conditions between the more well-to-do white people and the Mexican immigrants. Those depicted as being upper class live on top of the canyon, while the so-called lower class Mexicans live at the bottom of the Canyon where life’s necessities are harder to obtain.