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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

12. Migrant

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Activities: Author Activities

Carlos Bulosan - Author Questions

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  1. Comprehension: America Is in the Heart was criticized for its negative portrayal of the lives of Filipinos in the United States. Why would Bulosan show such a dark side to Filipino life in America, from constant drinking and gambling to stealing, prostitution, and murder? How do these portrayals help him make a point about the lives of these immigrants?

  2. Comprehension: According to the narrator of "Be American," in what ways has Consorcio "become" an American?

  3. Context: The status of Filipinos who immigrated to America was often indeterminate. Since the Philippines were a U.S. territory, immigrants were known as "nationals" and could enter the country freely until 1934, when the Tydings-McDuffie Act promised independence to the Philippines in ten years. At the outbreak of World War II, Franklin Delano Roosevelt granted Filipino military enlistees U.S. citizenship, but it wasn't until 1946, when Truman signed the Filipino Naturalization Bill, that Filipinos became citizens. Keeping all this in mind, locate passages in Bulosan's work that demonstrate a sense of homelessness or a longing for identity and place.

  4. Exploration: In America Is in the Heart, Bulosan recalls the creation of a culture of anti-colonial insurgency by Filipino peasants against those who had attempted to control the Philippines in the past (Spain and the United States). Why would this past make immigrant Filipinos especially good organizers of labor and trade unions to stand against the U.S. businesses and farms that exploited migrant workers?

  5. Exploration: America Is in the Heart, an autobiography, includes stories and tales of incidents that did not actually happen to Bulosan but were culled from the lives of other Filipino Americans much like himself. How does Bulosan's use of the autobiographical genre compare with other famous American autobiographies, such as Franklin's Autobiography, Douglass's Narrative, Jacobs's Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, or Adams's The Education of Henry Adams? Consider stylistic as well as thematic similarities and differences.

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