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Carlos Bulosan and the American Dream

Autor:   •  March 12, 2018  •  1,372 Words (6 Pages)  •  46 Views

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Homecoming. In Higashida’s outlook, Homecoming is a story about silences, and the things we do not or cannot say to one another. In the tale, a young man, Mariano, returns to his family in the Philippines and he is excited to be home and goes to what he considers "his father’s house" only to find that his father is dead and only his mother and sister are left. Mariano finds himself completely tongue-tied and he wanted to say something, but did not even know where to begin.

The women are equally unresponsive; they seem unable to bridge the gap between them and their brother. When he asks how they’ve been able to manage, the younger sister, Francisca, begins crying and leaves the room; the older, Marcela, says, "Sister isn’t pretty anymore.” In those few words Mariano realizes the truth: the sisters have been prostituting themselves; and "it dawned on him that they had suffered the same terrors of poverty, the same humiliations of defeat, that he had suffered in America. In their despair, and in the things they do to survive, men and women are equal—perhaps because they are underprivileged and poor.

The story "Be American" is a dramatization of the way in which the reality of life in the United States continually undermines the expectations of people arriving there. Instead of going back to the Philippines and seeing that disappointment and injustice exist everywhere, the conflict is in the United States. A more seasoned Filipino immigrant who is already familiar with the migrant work, racism, exploitation and political disenfranchisement of most Filipinos, meets his cousin Consorcio as he arrives in the States. Bulosan paints Consorcio’s arrival in terms of the failure he will experience. Bulosan makes his readers aware of two things immediately: Americans expect people to succeed on the basic of their merits; and whatever happens to Consorcio, it will be beyond his control. This bleak view of America is a far cry from the "immigrant makes good" stories that are familiar to many.

Defining the term “Americans”, whether in informal or in legal terms, is and will most likely continue to be an imperfect art. This nation is nothing if not impossibly diverse. America is also a nation determinedly evolving and there is always some aspect of American life and dreams undergoing change. This is a result of the people themselves—as long as there is someone with the will and means to make this country superior, like Carlos, who trusts that there is something special and being a part of something vitally alive in America, the United States can never remain in rest for too long. America may never become perfect, but it certainly will not be for a lack of effort on the part of its people. The greatest strength of this nation is its ability to inspire. Regardless of America’s injustices and ugly flaws, the nation as a whole is still worth knowing. It is and still can be a beautiful country. Carlos was not born an American but he managed to become one. If a reader is to take anything from the portrayal of America in his novels, is that America is in the hearts, minds, and dreams of Americans, and Americans are those both capable of and willing to give life to their dreams.


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