Themes

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The Tortilla Curtain is a novel by T. Coraghessan Boyle (known simply as T.C. Boyle) that explores political, social, and economic themes. The most evident theme in The Tortilla Curtain is the immigration issue in the United States. The influx of Mexican immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico national boundaries has given the border checkpoints and high fencing the nickname "tortilla curtain."

The other theme of the story is the struggle of migrants in the United States, who work blue-collar jobs. The novel examines the survival-of-the-fittest mechanisms at play within the migrant community in the United States. Fellow Mexican immigrants are seen as predatory as the American immigration officials, and there is no one to be trusted except one's family.

Another prominent theme in the novel is the socioeconomic divide between the affluent Americans and the impoverished Mexican workers they hire to do menial jobs. Even the setting of the story—a gated affluent suburban neighborhood near the border—is a physical and architectural representation of socioeconomic boundaries between different social classes.

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