What are 3 characteristics of autobiography presented in America is in the Heart?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The first characteristic of an autobiography that is evident in America is in the Heart is that the author writes in first person point of view (under the name "Allos") about situations that have occurred in his own life. In the novel, the point of view is that of a first person omniscient because it seems as if Bulosan is able to tap on the psyche of the other characters and know how they feel as well.

It was the beginning of my life in America, the beginning of a long flight that carried me down the years, fighting desperately to find peace in some corner of life

The second element, one which can make or break an autobiography is the combination of subjective and objective details. Subjective details are statements made by the author regarding something that he feels or wants to give an opinion about. An objective detail is a fact that can be proven, or that really happen. Something to be quite careful with in terms of autobiographies is the extent to which the writer adorns or embellishes any subjective or objective detail presented as "fact". Too much detail may subject the fact to misinterpretation and the author may be accused of creating scenarios to benefit his or her own personal views. Author Carlos Bulosan has been questioned about the details presented as fact in the novel for phrases such as

it was a crime to be a Filipino in California. I came to know that the public streets were not free to my people. . . .”

in terms of whether this was fact or his own opinion based on other facts. This is not to say that he embellished or exaggerated. In fact, the points that he makes and the events surrounding his life are indeed quite powerful, prompting deep thoughts and analysis from the reader.

A third element is the author's purpose, which may go hand in hand with point of view. Bulosan wants to create awareness about the harsh situations that Filipinos have suffered in America and throughout history; about his own bad and rough experiences, and how his reflections are no different than the average Filipino just like him. Point of view can go together with author's purpose because Bulosan's aim to create awareness necessitates him to proof that his points are valid and can be equally validated by others.

As an addition, the novel is also divided into anecdotal tales which are classified into four parts. The anecdotes are also characteristic of this genre.

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