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Two Faces Of America by Carlos Bulosan
Transcript of Two Faces Of America by Carlos Bulosan
Carlos Sampayan Bulosan (November 2, 1913 – September 11, 1956) was an English-language Filipino novelist and poet who spent most of his life in the United States. His best-known work is the semi-autobiographical America Is in the Heart.
America Is in the Heart
America Is in the Heart, sometimes subtitled A Personal History, is a 1946 semi-autobiographical novel written by Filipino American immigrant poet, fiction writer, short story teller, and activist, Carlos Bulosan. The novel was one of the earliest published books that presented the experiences of the immigrant and working class based on anAsian American point of view and has been regarded as "the premier text of the Filipino-American experience." In his introduction, journalist Carey McWilliams, who wrote a 1939 study about migrant farm labor in California (Factories in the Field), describedAmerica Is in the Heart as a “social classic” that reflected on the experiences of Filipino immigrants in America who were searching for the “promises of a better life”.
Carlos Bulosan (1913-1956)
Life and career
Carlos Bulosan was born to Ilocano parents in the Philippines in the rural village of Mangusmana, in the town of Binalonan, Pangasinan. There is considerable debate around his actual birth date, as he himself used several dates, but 1911 is generally considered the most reliable answer, based on his baptismal records, but according to the late Lorenzo Duyanen Sampayan, his childhood playmate and nephew, Carlos was born on November 2, 1913. Most of his youth was spent in the countryside as a farmer. It is during his youth that he and his family were economically impoverished by the rich and political elite, which would become one of the main themes of his writing. His home town is also the starting point of his famous semi-autobiographical novel, America is in the Heart.
Born in 1913,Bulosan recounts his boyhood in the Philippines.The early chapters describe his life as a Filipino farmer "plowing with a carabao". Bulosan was the fourth oldest son of the family. As a young Filipino, he once lived in the farm tended by his father, while his mother was separately living in a barrio in Binalonan, Pangasinan, together with Bulosan’s brother and sister. Their hardship included pawning their land and had to sell items in order to finish the schooling of his brother Macario.[He had another brother named Leon, a soldier who came back after fighting in Europe.
Bulosan's narration about his life in the Philippines was followed by his journey to the United States.He recounted how he immigrated to America in 1930. He retells the struggles, prejudice, and injustice he and other Filipinos had endured in the United States, first while in the Northwestern fisheries then later in California These included his experiences as a migrant and laborer in the ruralWest.
Bulosan's America Is in the Heart is one of the few books that detail the migrant workers' struggles in the United States during the 1930s through the 1940s, a time when signs like "Dogs and Filipinos not allowed" were common. The struggles included "beatings, threats, and ill health". In this book, Bulosan also narrated his attempts to establish a labor union. Bulosan's book had been compared to The Grapes of Wrath except that the main and real characters were brown-skinned. Despite the bitterness however, Bulosan revealed at the final pages of the book that because he loved America no one could ever destroy his faith in his new country.In this personal literature, Bulosan argued that despite of the suffering and abuses he experienced America was an unfinished “ideal in which everyone must invest time and energy, this outlook leaves us with a feeling of hope for the future instead of bitter defeat.” According to Carlos P. Romulo when he was interviewed by The New York Times, Bulosan wrote America Is in the Heart with “bitterness” in his heart and blood yet with the purpose of contributing “something toward the final fulfillment of America”.
America Is in the Heart serves as a piece of activist literature. It sheds light on the racial and class issues that affected Filipino immigrants throughout the beginning of the twentieth century. The autobiography attempts to show Filipino Americans the structure of American society and the oppression inflicted upon Filipino’s living in America. E. San Juan, Jr., in “Carlos Bulosan, Filipino Writer-Activist”, states, “American administrators, social scientist, intellectuals, and others made sense of Filipinos: we were (like American Indians) savages, half childish primitives, or innocuous animals that can be either civilized with rigorous tutelage or else slaughtered outright”. In America Is in the Heart, Bulosan properly shows the reader the animalistic treatment that was inflicted upon the Filipino’s on the west coast. Bulosan states, “At that time, there was ruthless persecution of the Filipinos throughout the Pacific Coast”. He wants Filipinos and even white Americans to realize the harmful treatment of Filipinos and the problems of society.
After the 1946 printing, America Is in the Heart was republished by the University of Washington Press in 1973. Because of its subtitle "A Personal History", America Is in the Heart is regarded as an autobiography but – according to P.C. Morantte (Bulosan's friend) – had to be "fictionalized" by Bulosan, imbibing the book with real characters. Thus it was described by one character in the book's original draft as "30% autobiography, 40% case history of Pinoy (Filipino immigrant) life in America, and 30% fiction".