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ENGL 201 - Fernandez - Fall 2020: Home


This library research guide was created to help you with your ENGL 201 interpretation essay.

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To learn all about the information on each page, watch each of the instructional videos on the top-center column.

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FALL 2021

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Introduction Video (Watch This First!)

Interpretation Essay: T.C. Boyle's "Tortilla Curtain"

Your Claim

Interpret what you believe T. C. Boyle is arguing in his novel about the America Dream. Does Boyle suggest that the American Dream is achievable or is it simply an illusion?  Though the novel was written over 20 years ago, do you believe it is still relevant to our society today? In other words, does T. C. Boyle’s argument reflect our America today? Is the American Dream achievable today?   


Define the American Dream as you understand it and how you are applying this definition to your interpretation of Tortilla Curtain. Introduce the three novel elements and compare each to a corresponding element in America today (within the past 10 years).

  1. Characters in the novel compared to individual(s) today in America
  2. Settings in the novel compared to places or institutions in America today
  3. Plot in the novel compared to an event in America today


Each body paragraph/section must include quotes from the following:

  • Novel
  • Literary criticism (This has been uploaded for you on Canvas.)
  • Database research (This research supports your interpretation of America today.)

Your essay should be at least 5 pages 3 to 4 in length.  Anything short of that will adversely affect the development of your interpretation and the final grade on this assignment.  It must contain at least 3 outside scholarly sources Only ONE Database source is required, but that is the minimum.  Please bring all drafts to every class meeting. Follow proper MLA format when citing sources after each quote.

Works Cited

Follow proper MLA formatInclude at least THREE sources: novel, literary criticism, Database research.

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