The American Dream in And the Earth Did Not Devour Him, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, and America is in the Heart

Decent Essays

Millions of people of all nationalities came to America during the twentieth century with the hope of finding a new and better life for themselves. These immigrants were lured by the thought of obtaining the American Dream--"life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" in the "land of opportunity." Unfortunately, few immigrants were actually successful in achieving the dream. Most were faced with hardship and discrimination, instead of the expected equality and freedom. The dire living conditions hampered their ability to pursue "happiness" and created what W.E.B. Dubois called "the veil," which refers to the fabric of racism that separates whites from other ethnicities and causes non-whites to see themselves under the distortion of a …show more content…

When the ex-colored man proceeds to stand he is told to sit until the "others" are asked to stand. This scene shows the importance that is placed on classifying and separating within American society. He was oblivious to the concept of black and white until the segregation was forced upon him. From that moment on he was insecure about his identity; not knowing whether to claim himself as "white" or "black." Later, after witnessing a lynching of a black man he is conflicted with the shame that the black race would allow itself to be treated worse than animals and with the appalling idea that his country would allow a human being to be burned alive. Thus, he declares that he "would neither disclaim the black race nor claim the white race." He eventually decides to "pass" as a white man because it seemed like the more secure path. He is constantly insecure in his decisions and is always questioning the differences between the races. He feels trapped by the expectations placed upon each race. His struggles display the ridiculousness of classifying human beings solely by their skin color.

A similar theme is seen in Carlos Bulosan's America is in the Heart. However, the protagonist of this literary work is a Filipino. America is seen through the "veil" of a Filipino immigrant, who represents the collective experience of the many Filipinos who came to America in search of the American Dream. He

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