Boyle uses the coyote throughout the novel Tortilla Curtain to draw repeatedly parallels between the actual coyote and the figurative coyote. Boyle uses the actual coyote to show how the animal actually is. In this novel, the coyote acts as a symbol for many things. Boyle parallels the figurative coyote with the man in the red hat who is portrayed as the bad character in the novel. Boyle also uses the coyote to parallel the illegal immigrants and the way the coyote lives. Candido is one of the main characters in the novel that is an illegal Mexican and is paralleled to the coyote. Boyle points out how the coyote is symbolic of illegal aliens. He also shows the meanings of the literal coyote to the real animal itself. In each of these cases, we see how the coyote plays an important role in The Tortilla Curtain. T.C. Boyle's message lies within the symbol of the coyote. It serves as an awakening to a serious problem that surrounds us. The coyote in this novel is symbolic towards the characters" actions and their way of life. .
In the first part of the novel, entitled "Arroyo Blanco" we see how Boyle uses the literal coyote to portray the real animal. The Mossbacher family consists of Delaney, Kyra, and Jordan. They own two terrier dogs named Sacheverell and Osbert. One night a coyote jumps over and eats Sacheverell. The family is heart broken over this so they put up an even higher fence to keep out any unwanted animals. Again, the coyote jumps over the fence and eats the other dog named Osbert. It seems as though the coyote will do whatever is has to do to survive. Even if that means breaking and entering. At the same time, the homeowners association is trying to put up a gate to keep out "the Salvadorans, the Mexicans, the blacks, the gangbangers, and taggers and carjakers-(39). Boyle uses the coyote as a symbol of breaking in and taking whatever he wants. Even though the Mossbachers put up an even higher fence, it still did not keep the coyote .