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History Recycled In The Works Of T.C. Boyle

1716 words - 7 pages

Past and present, sharply separated by the chapter structures, are fused in motifs and unstressed parallels" (DeMott 52). History's repeating itself is a dominant theme throughout T.C Boyle's novels. If people do not learn from past mistakes, they are likely to fail again. By revisiting history, Boyle teaches the importance of awareness and caution of an ever-changing society. In "The Tortilla Curtain" a specific migrant problem in the 1930s is modified to fit modern immigration. Candido and America's battle for survival after immigrating to the United States repeats a similar event depicted in Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath. Boyle's twisted short stories in the If the River was Whiskey mirror events in history in the light of modern times. The similarities between the Van Brunts and the Van Warts in The World's End contribute to identical generations, separated by three hundred years. Boyle attacks modern society's conceited, self-absorbed attitude, and he discourages reiteration of the past.In the Tortilla Curtain, Boyle recycles a past dilemma, as he writes of a problem similar to the "Dust Bowl" migration of the 1930s. Candido Rincon and his wife America travel from Mexico to America through the "Tortilla Curtain," searching for work, while constantly striving to achieve the American Dream. In this journey, the Rincons encounter several racist obstacles including a pack of white men who beat and rape America during her pregnancy, leaving her to die. Constantly searching for work and money takes Candido mentally and physically away from his wife.High in the Arroyo Blanco ("white rice") Estates lives the Mossbacher family, which dwells in the temple of American materialism. Delaney and his wife, Kyra, live the typical modern American Dream: two parents, upper-middle class status, a child, and a Lexus. The fantasy that Candido and America desperately want is not that much different from the wishes of past couples; a white picket fence, a refrigerator, and a dishwasher were all extravagant luxuries that seem so common now. Candido summarizes the typical middle class:...white faces, high heels business suits, the greedy eyes, andravenous mouths. They lived in their glass palaces, with theirgates and fences and security systems, they left half-eatenlobsters and beefsteaks on their plates when the rest of theworld was starving, spent enough to feed and clothe an entirecountry on their exercise equipment, their swimming pools,and tennis courts, jogging shoes, and all of them even thepoorest had two cars. Where was the justice in that? (200)The Rincons and the Mossbachers collide in "...an accident in a world of accidents, the collision of opposing forces" (Tortilla 3). Delaney, the transcendentalist of the novel, begins his spiral toward complete contempt for immigrants and foreigners in general when he hits Candido with his car. The Mossbacher's story of immigrant resentment and high society moves side by side with the Rincons endeavor to...

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