Tortilla Curtain Essay, Research Paper
Tortilla Curtain: Jack Jardine
Jack Jardine is a very interesting character in the story Tortilla Curtain. He has a very strong influence on Delany Mossbacher, one of the central characters in the story. His influences, along with the tragic string of events concerning Delany and Candido, produce a complete turn around in the ideals of Delany by the end of the story. At the start of the story Delany is a liberal humanist , albeit a hypocritical one, but by the end of the story Delany is carrying a gun looking for Candido.
It is easy for readers to categorize Jack as a cruel, cold hearted, upper class bigot considering his actions and words. I have to admit I think he comes off that way sometimes. But he also is a lot more than just that. He isn t stupid. In many ways his reasoning about illegal immigrants makes a lot of sense. Illegal immigration does hurt the economy. Illegal immigrants do take away jobs from citizens. But Jack takes it to such an extreme that it is hard for one to feel that his views of illegal immigrants and his sentiments about them are purely a result of his concern about the economy and the state.
Don t be surprised, because this is only the beginning. We re under siege here-and there s going to be a backlash. (pg. 146)
Jack acts like citizens are in some kind of war with illegal immigrants. With sentiments like this it is hard to deny that he has a bit of paranoia. It is very interesting that he says citizens are under siege from illegal immigrants. It seems like he thinks that if they don t stop all the illegal immigrants, they are going to take over the country or do some other horrific deed.
It s also hard to deny the race issue. The way he is so emotional about the topic of illegal immigrants, it is easy for people to think racism has something to do with it. Some might go as far to say the whole immigration thing is just a cover up so he can vent his racist views (considering that most illegal immigrants are not white). I would not go that far, but I do believe racism plays a factor in his actions. Says Jack, The ones coming in through the Tortilla Curtain down there, those are the ones that are killing us. They re peasants, my friend. No education, no resources, no skills .
Now what does he contribute in the larger scheme of the story? Jack serves to change Delany in such a way that by the end of the story Delany is in very many ways the exact opposite of the liberal humanist he supposedly was at the start of the story. That s not to say Jack is the only reason Delany changes. The incidents with Candido most assuredly had their part in his transformation. But Jack serves to bring the issues to the forefront. To constantly put it in Delany s face every chance he gets. After every bad incident involving Delany and immigrants, Jack is there to chime in with his views. That must certainly have an effect on Delany because by the end of the story Delany is accusing Mexicans of theft and is packing a gun to look for Candido. That is a far cry from the start of the story. Delany is very much a central character in the book so Jack s influences on Delany are very significant in terms of the whole scheme of the story.
But even more than that, Jack represents something on an even larger scale outside of Arroyo Blanco and its surroundings. I think he represents the hypocrisy parts of this country have come to regarding immigrants in general. He serves as an example of all those sheltered people who use immigrants as a scapegoat for the degradation of our society. Consider the fact that he doesn t even consider himself an immigrant.
Besides which, the Jardines fought in the Revolutionary War- you could hardy call us immigrants. (pg. 102)
That line just shouts out hypocrisy. This represents the types of reasoning I think a lot of people in America have. I am an immigrant, but I ve been here longer so I belong here whereas you don t since you just came here. And then when something goes wrong, blame it on the illegal immigrants. What does this aspect of him do for the story? I think it serves simply to put Candido and America in a more sympathetic light. And it works. I seriously doubt many people would be on Jack s side when reading the story. It even puts Delany in a more sympathetic light, at least until the end where Delany s transformation is already apparent.
In the end, Jack is a more significant character than many people would think. Even with the relatively few lines he has in the story, he helps to totally change Delany, who in turn affects pretty much everyone else in the story in some way or another. He also serves as a reminder of what can happen, or even what already has happened, if we get too extreme. I couldn t help thinking while reading through the book, is this what some people in America have come to?