In "Be American," an essay found in the anthology On Becoming Filipino: Selected Writing of Carlos Bulosa, Carlos Bulosan describes how his cousin Consorcio became an "American."  Is there a...

In "Be American," an essay found in the anthology On Becoming Filipino: Selected Writing of Carlos Bulosa, Carlos Bulosan describes how his cousin Consorcio became an "American."  Is there a defining moment or characteristic that marked this transformation? 

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In Carlos Bulosan's essay "Be American," found in his larger anthology On Becoming Filipino: Selected Writing of Carlos Bulosan, Carlos's cousin Consorcio certainly does go through a great deal to fulfill his dream of becoming an American. Among the things he does is purchase a room full of scholarly books with the money earned from his first job working as a dishwasher; however, we learn that he sadly decided to sell them all when he felt they were too difficult to learn to read. He even tells Carlos that reading the English grammar books is too difficult too. However, Carlos helps Consorcio find a new job to enable him to start attending night school. After that, Carlos actually does not hear from Consorcio for quite some time and does not know where he has gone to. It is definitely clear Consorcio's defining moment that helps him become an American either happens as a result of attending night school or just after; however, due to limited access to the text, I can only direct you to where to look in the text and describe what happens in general terms.

On page 69, we learn that Carlos has been working in Alaska and upon returning "to the mainland" he goes to San Francisco to search for his cousin and then even "wander[s] in and out of Los Angeles" for two more years, occasionally hoping to find his cousin. By the end of page 69, Carlos feels "a light had on [his] shoulder," and this is apparently a turning moment in the story. The available text jumps two pages, but the next thing the reader is able to learn is that at some point Consorcio had been oversees and he had become educated enough to be able to write editorials in "measured sentences that rang like music, great poetry, and soft, soft" (p. 72). Based on the visible phrase "crusade for a better American," the reader can also deduce that either Consorcio's editorials or something else he did was aimed at creating a stronger, less biased America. We also learn that whatever Consorcio did oversees took a great deal out of him, to the point that it took his life, as he died soon after returning to American from oversees. Hence, whatever Consorcio did for a better America physically killed him--he gave up his life for a better America. However, before he died, he "received his most cherished dream: American citizenship" (p. 72). Hence, Consorcio's turning point in becoming an American was either the moment he started night school or whatever he became involved in described on pages 70 and 71 that both cost him his life and earned him his American citizenship.

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