The brilliantly written novel The Tortilla Curtain by T. Boyle recounts the story of two couples in the United States both pursuing their idea of the American dream. The first couple, Delaney and Kyra are a modern, middle class pair. Candido and America, the second couple, are illegal immigrants from Mexico. Although it seems difficult to see what these four people might have in common, there are several similar characteristics observable in the women, in spite of their differing situations. Most women highly value safety, independence, and personal space; these women are no different. Throughout the novel as Boyle develops the characters, it becomes evident how each woman's culture and husband shapes the way these values are expressed and manifested in their lives through their work ethic. It ultimately determines how successful they become.
The first couple introduced in the story are Delaney and Kyra Mossbacher. They seem to have the perfect modern relationship with very similar personalities and much in common; "They were both perfectionists They were joggers, nonsmokers, social drinkers, and if not full blown vegetarians, people who were conscious of their intake of animal fats." (34) They live in the Arroyo Blanco Estates, a private community complete with every luxury they desire. Living a comfortable and complacent lifestyle, they have little regard for the less fortunate and even less interaction with them. Kyra is an extremely driven and successful businesswoman; in fact, " she was the undisputed volume leader at Mike Bender Realty, Inc." (31) Delaney, her husband, is a stay at home step-dad and part time columnist for Wide Open Spaces a nature magazine. With his liberal humanist worldview, he has no ethical problem with Kyra being the "chief breadwinner" of the family. (35) Scheduling his life to cater to her needs, he supports and encourages her independence and her work.