America is in the Heart Summary and Study Guide
SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 50-page guide for “America is in the Heart” by Carlos Bulosan includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 49 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Education and Nationalism.
America is in the Heart is the gripping autobiography of Filipino poet and writer Carlos Bulosan. He writes in first person under the name “Allos” about his own life in four parts. His story starts as he describes his peasant youth in the Philippines, recalling memories of growing up on a farm with his father. Allos feels he did not have a real childhood, as he began working in the fields and doing chores at age five. His family struggles through pawning their land and other possessions. His mother, brother and sister live in the city of Banalonan. When he visits them, Allos helps his mother with her trading and sells fruit to make money. Much of this support goes to Bulosan’s brother, Macario, as he finishes high school. Macario’s graduation proves important because he will be able to help the family, though it doesn’t end up working out this way after he loses a teaching job.
As he travels with his mother throughout other villages, Allos develops a dislike toward the middle class as social unrest in the Philippines exists. Peasant rebellions take place, which help create Bulosan’s decision to move to America with his brothers, Macario and Amado. They immigrate separately but all hold the same belief that America means equality, which is exactly what they are searching for and the reason for going. However, when they get there, they realize the impact of the Great Depression in America. During this time, it proves to make life difficult for everyone, especially Filipino migrant workers. As the Filipino population grows and the Great Depression worsens, the anti-Filipino movement strengthened. There is exploitation and a hatred of Filipinos by whites, the cruelty of whom is surprisingly saddening to Allos. In America, he finds that he must take whatever work he can get. Although he makes money picking crops, it is minimal and he continuously finds himself living in poor, dirty conditions. The agricultural community in the west, especially California, was characterized by a life of transience and few opportunities at this time. There is also the constant fear of attack because he is a Filipino immigrant.
Once he understands that he cannot live this way forever, Allos decides to take part in the labor movement with the people with whom he spends his time. Because they try to organize workers, they are in conflict with large agricultural interests. Eventually as time passes, he takes refuge in the Filipino worker rights movement and he and his friends form a committee to help Filipinos obtain citizenship, though they are not successful. When World War II begins, they are banned from enlisting and decide to begin another movement. This time around is successful and results in a proclamation by the president of the United States that allows Filipinos to serve in the military.
Bulosan’s purpose for writing is to create awareness about what Filipino immigrants went through in America during the time of the Great Depression and throughout history. He focuses especially on his own experiences and reflections. He did not always have a great relationship with the country, as he struggled to understand how a place that represented freedom did not allow him such rights at first. America is in the Heart is similar to other works about this time period in its strong…