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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 325

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While there are many characters depicted in Elaine Catillo's novel America Is Not the Heart, in this response I will focus on describing some of the book's most important characters.

Lead Character: Hero

The lead character of America Is Not the Heart goes by the name Hero, although her given first name is Gerónima. Hero comes from a wealthy, upper-class Filipino family. Although she underwent training to become a doctor, she instead decides to use her training to run away and become a member of the New People's Army as a medic.

The New People's Army is a communist guerilla group. The aim of this group is to overthrow the established government in the Philippines and to rid the country of America's political influence. The group's mission is to introduce an approach to governance led by the working class.

A decade spent involved with this militant organization leaves Hero traumatized and with broken thumbs. As she is no longer accepted by her parents, Hero moves to San Francisco to live with relatives. These relatives are Pol (her uncle), Paz (his wife), and Roni (their young daughter).


Pol is Hero's uncle, and he once worked as a doctor. He is often absent from his family's daily life. Pol attempts to kidnap his daughter, Roni, by taking her on a "holiday" to the Philippines, but luckily Hero is able to recognize what is really happening and help the young girl.


Roni is Paz and Pol's eight-year-old Filipino American daughter. She plays an important role in assisting Hero to adjust to her new life in San Francisco. Interestingly, like Roni, as a child Elaine Castillo was kidnapped by her own father and taken to the Philippines (Rowe 2018).


Rosalyn is a gay makeup artist whom Hero meets when she moves to San Francisco. She is known for her penchant for swearing. Rosalyn plays an important role in the novel as a love interest for Hero.