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Delaney Mossbacher Characterization

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Delaney Mossbacher resides in the hills of Topanga Canyon, away from the rest of Los Angeles and its ethnic problems; he tells himself it is to feel at peace with nature. He disagrees with the idea of living in the seclusion of the white American neighborhood of Arroyo Blanco to escape ethnic disputes the city holds; he lives in Topanga Canyon to satisfy his environmentalist title. After letting Delaney’s character develop more to give further insight on who Delaney truly is, there is no need to address how one action of his gives him a specific trait. Delaney strongly stands by his liberal views when other characters criticize Mexican immigrants, but when he is faced with a situation possibly involving a Mexican immigrant his liberal views dissipate. Delaney can give off a sense of awkwardness when found in an uncomfortable situation, but he can’t be classified as being completely socially awkward. He does, however, possess an introverted personality. He will not be the type of person to take charge or one to freely initiate a conversation. At this point of his life Delaney is being bombarded with a number of incidents that cause him to formulate a dislike and anger toward Mexican immigrants. Delaney allows what occurs around him to dictate how he reacts to situations. This starts to promote contrast in his liberal views, making him a product of the society and cultural views that surround him.

At first attempt to characterize Delaney it took a number of possible traits, and it summed up to: Delaney struggles to be a normal person due to his social awkwardness and lack of common sense, but that was only with part one of The Tortilla Curtain. After seeing further development of Delaney’s character, it is observed he does communicate well with others unless he’s uncomfortable, his marriage is normal and has its rough patches like most other relationships, and that Delaney isn’t completely irrational in the way he reacts in stressful situations. Delaney reacts on impulse and jumps to conclusions like most people do.
“Delaney would be on his own. But Delaney didn’t want to be on his own (225).” In part one, solitude seems to enlighten Delaney, though he clearly states he doesn’t like being alone in part two. Yet he is alone for the majority of each day, Delaney enjoys the company of others and expresses how he eagerly waits for the Kyra to return at the end of each day. So Delaney keeps himself productive and finds things to do while Kyra is at work. So why did Delaney marry Kyra if she is a workaholic? Delaney finds happiness in his life by catering to Kyra, he feels she compliments him by completing everything he isn’t.
Delaney is a proud liberal humanist, proud that he stands for the right for anyone to have to the right to pursue the American dream and pursue a better life. He is all for everyone having their rights when it best suits him, but where do these liberal views go when he assumes Mexican immigrants are camping in the canyon leaving their trash in attempt to make it a garbage dump, a little Tijuana (Boyle 11)? When he concludes Mexican immigrants stole his car? When he absolutely knows what Jose Navidad is doing in his neighborhood demanding the Mexican man to explain himself. Ever since he hit Candido, Delaney has sheltered inner conflict within him and doesn’t become apparent to what he is becoming until the incident in his cul de sac, “so devastated he couldn’t speak, what was happening to him, what was he becoming (229)?” Delaney is back and forth between two different people, he is not a liberal humanist he is a hypocrite. The Delaney that’s shows concern for the immigrants, like after the news that the corner of Shoup and Ventura had been cleaned up along with the labor exchange, his thoughts are, “Where were these people supposed to go (193)?” The Delaney that still has glimpses of his liberal views is contrast with the new Delaney. The Delaney becoming a product of the society that surrounds him is starting to shape his thoughts, thus the first impulses and conclusions he has are racist.
Delaney is from New York. The east coast has a large diversity of ethnic cultures due to the many European immigrants that had immigrated generations before. Delaney’s liberal views could have been shaped by the culture he grew up in because of the large diversity of race after so long. There was not a large amount of racism on the east coast, and or he received the same kind of racial tension for being Irish-American. Now that he resides in California and he is now part of the white superior group, the people around him like to conservatively think they are better than anyone else. Whatever the underlying cause of his sudden change of feelings towards Mexican immigrants, it is do the influences that had started to take affect around him.
Delaney channels his anger through his writing; he uses his articles Pilgrim at Topanga Creek to describe the coyote but the coyote is symbolic of much more than itself. It symbolizes the life of the Mexican immigrants. He uses the coyotes as metaphor to stand for Mexican immigrants, because like the coyote, the immigrants also coincide among the white American population, struggling to survive. There is a fence between the coyotes and the Mossbacher’s dogs but the coyotes still breach it. Just like there is a U.S. and Mexican border the Mexican immigrants find their way across in search of better lives. At first reading the second article on the coyotes just seemed as if Delaney was venting his frustration because another coyote had struck again. Then something stood out, “The coyotes keep coming, breeding up to fill in the gaps, moving in where the living is easy. They are cunning, versatile, hungry and unstoppable (215).” Delaney’s implicit thoughts could very well stand for his true feelings of the Mexican immigrants and all along his liberal views were all talk, never truly made to be put to action. He passes by the perfect opportunity to put his liberal views to action when Todd Sweet asks Delaney to intervene in opposition with the wall (227). So was Delaney Mossbacher ever a true liberal humanist at all? His racism had been dormant and it took the fire of hitting Candido, Jack’s influence, and the incidents that kept including Mexican immigrants, to somehow spark the same racism he could have possibly felt growing up as a child.
The wall represents more than what Delaney and the citizens of Arroyo Blanco see it as. More than a distance between humans and nature and more than keeping the unwelcome out. The wall is a symbol of the strong separation between the prospering white Americans and the struggling Mexican immigrants. The Mexican immigrants that are working hard to achieve the American Dream, while the wealthy Americans feed them nonsense but know the immigrants will never amount to anything. Delaney describes the wall as not only “keeping them out, but look what it keeps in (224).” This refers to the racism Jack’s son displayed, concluding that walling in all the poisonous racism it would affect Jordan, just like it had already affected Delaney living in the seclusion of Arroyo Blanco.
Delaney has become a developing product of his racist community and society. He fears the worst for Jordan to grow up around racial tension, but has not yet seen how much it already has affected him. Delaney is gradually losing his liberal views, while also losing control of his temper and his over morale he once held. It is only a matter of time until Delaney himself becomes a “Jack Jardine”

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