On one hand, Globalization created an anatomy of modernity and pleasurable living taking us on the route of development spree, yet on the other hand this very Globalization created paradoxical complex situations in the lives of our young ones. These young ones who on one hand want to break all the cords of conventional thoughts and ideological patterns that were dominating in their societal world and on the other hand want to enter into the world shown to them by the materialistic society of today.
Children’s dreams and images of the glamorous world shown to them in the American society are enough to turn their versatile mind towards the fulfillment of realization of their goals. But more and more children from different parts of the world trying to follow the ideals of the glamour and power showered on them by Hollywood, more and more they find themselves entangled into the web of unsuccessful endeavors resulting in lashing against each other. This very preposterous position of their duplicate life faced by the children has been captured in the intricate words of “American son”.
The novel revolves around Filipino immigrants, and the effect that the American culture in Globalization world have on them, the problems they are facing in searching their own identity and the violent effects on them resulting from the racism. The attraction of the children for the materialistic goods, their desire for luxurious life and the lack of familial bond they had to face take them to the path of crime coaxing them for stealing and coveting.
Globalization brought the glamour world into the souls of the generation next coaxing them into following unattainable ideals of the fashionable world, and when success remains aloof from these young Filipino Americans, they resort to crime and violence. The society of Filipino American youths so revealed in 1993 in California by Brian Roley reflects the “underbelly of the modern immigrant experience” (back cover). The dilemma of the Filipino youths is seen through the eyes of Gabrielito Sullivan, fifteen-year-old American boy.
He was a boy who was born and brought up by white father and Filipino mother. The whole family strove to maintain a balance between their traditional values raised by the voice of Uncle Betino in the Philippines through his letters and the attractions of the genre class of the American society, living in West LA. Gabrielito, nickname Gabe, his mother, and his older brother Tomas, emigrated to America almost ten years before, had to fight at every stage of their life to regain their identity in the multifarious city of Los Angles.
They had to rely on menial or dead end jobs away from their families, as seen by Rhacel Parrenas, “partial citizenship, the pain of family separation, the experience of contradictory class mobility, and the feeling of social exclusion or non-belonging in the migrant community” (Parrenas, 12), speak volume of the sufferings they had to go through and the trauma of the violent acts they had to face due to poverty that had put all the concepts of Globalization lay bare. Gabe did not see his father, since the day he got drunk and returned from his station in Germany.
He still remembered that darkest phase of his life when his father thrashed the children and “making fun of Filipinos and her family,” the father told Tomas that he only married their mom because “he wanted someone meek and obedient, but had been fooled because she came with a nagging extended family. ” (Roley 24) When his father left the home, Gabe’s mother would often call up her brother in the Philippines to seek his advice on how she should bring her children up.
She would often receive letters from Uncle Betino to send her sons’ back to Philippines to imbibe in them “some of the Asian virtues of [the] family heritage. ” (Roley 201) These letters did not allow Gabe’s mother to come out of her roots and neither allowed her to fully assimilate herself in the American society. Even though economical hardships loomed large on her face, she still did not want to go back as she could not bear the heat, showers that spread smell, the insects, diseases, and relatives who make “tsismis about each other behind their backs” (Roley 33).
Tomas tried to reconcile himself into the American family and defying the racist and discriminatory attitude by showing his masculinity. He would often end up in the family parties with “his muscles all covered in gangster tattoos and his head shaved down to stubble and his eyes bloodshot from pot. ” (Roley 15) This character and personality adopted by Tomas spread the spark of rebel and violence against his own self and against the duplicate society. He was always finding himself in the company of tough Mexicans and his tattoos also postured the Mexican identity.
“His tattoos are mostly gang, Spanish, and old-lady Catholic,” Gabe observed, as he noted “the Virgin of Guadalupe tattoo that covers his back from his neck down to his pants. ” (Roley 17) Tomas tried to use the stereotype and racists attitude of the society to fulfill his commercial gains. In his business of Dogs, he uses the language that signifies the stereotype image that is breathing in the American souls. He uses German language to sell his dogs and all to the “rich people and celebrities. ” (Roley 15) He uses the tactic of story telling with nationalized concept to draw in the attention of his clients towards his dogs.
He is often heard saying to his clients that his dogs have “pedigrees that go back to Germany, and that they descend from dogs the Nazis used [and that his training] is a Teutonic art that goes back to the Prussian war states. ” (Roley 20) It’s only by proclaiming himself as Nazi that he is able to find himself recognized and legitimate citizen among high-class society of America. The most alluring part lies in the fact that all lies are easily taken for granted, as whole society is inflexed with racism. Since ages, Asian males had been subjected to mistreatment and exclusion laws.
Their masculine power were thought of as a crime and considered as harmful for the whole society as they were thought of to be terminator of diseases, miscegenation and sexual corruption. Majority of the males were put to work considered as feminine in nature and were poorly paid and were represented in Media as hypersexual. In a bid to develop a viable his identity as a macho man, time and again, Tomas would succumb himself in violence and goes to an extent of beating his brother, whenever he looked at his subservient attitude.
Though both Tomas and Gabe loved their mother but they would get frustrated at their helplessness and by the financial difficulties that they had to undergo and to overcome this Tomas involved himself in all petty crimes like assaulting others, breaking into the houses of other people, and robbery. By the end of the novel, he took Gabe along with him for stealing the goods of other people and then again selling them only with a hope to increase their wealth and along with that the status of their mother. Tomas stole the items like brass sinks faucets and bathroom fittings and in exchange bought a new bed for her mother.
Once in a house of Brentwood Park, Tomas told Gabe, “Look for the pearls. Or anything with gold on it. Forget the silver stuff. It wouldn’t look good on her brown skin. ” (Roley 147) As it was amply clear to them that their success and to make themselves recognized in a society, wealth is the most important and established proposition, in what ever way it is earned. To gain the status and position in American society, the most important qualification is how wealthy you are. And Tomas was following the same path.
He was showering his love for mother by giving her all the wealthy possessions, which were constantly figured in various forms of media like glossy magazines, television, film and advertisements attracting Filipino youths. Spending the life in a capitalist society surrounded with materialistic wealth but not having any thing for themselves, the lives of Filipino youths was just similar to a thirsty person surrounded with sea. It’s like water is everywhere but not a single drop to drink. In the social and political spheres that engulfed America in the nineteenth century it was impossible for them to earn money in a legitimate way.
There were very few options left for them to earn the status and legitimacy among high and legendry class. In his quest to acquire wealth, Tomas became a hustler. As said by Mercer and Julien, “the figure of the hustler [… ] is intelligible as a valid response to conditions of racism, poverty and exploitation, it does not challenge that system of oppression but rather accommodates itself to it: illegal means are used to attain the same normative ends or ‘goals’ of consumption associated with the patriarchal definition of the man’s role as ‘breadwinner’”.
(Mercer and Julien, 114) They think themselves as American Son only if they act violently. The violence and crime can only gratify them. They showed their aggressiveness by beating Ben, one of the schoolmates of Gabe, who was also, son of rich American woman. Ben threatened them to collect eight hundred dollars from their mother as she by mistake knocked at the woman’s land Cruiser, which was in front of their school. And while hurling the tire iron at Ben’s legs, Gabe thought that, “I feel a rush not of anxiety but of confidence.
In a scary way I realize I like it. Strangely, that only makes my stomach worse. ”(Roley 215) In the end of the story, when Tomas placed his hand over Gabe just like a father would do to his son, showed the volume of the self will power and reassurance they are giving to each other. With the help of both criminal as well as legitimate ways, both the protagonists enabled themselves to get along with the ways of the world full of prejudice and disproportionate disposition.
They may not be now trans-migrants like their mother, but they forgot their values and traditions and defied both court and law. The most crucial aspect of the novel is the inner conflict of the protagonists that arises from their own self and society that is shown in Gabe’s nature too who was earlier a submissive child but soon followed Tomas way of life. When beaten by his brother, his inner instinct told him to go and take revenge and so he took revenge on Tomas by stealing his car and dog.
He then ran away to Northern California so that he can find himself get rid of his family and from his brother’s violent behavior towards him but his bonds for his family succumbed him to return and join Tomas. Today’s youths want to unleash the old conventional ways of life and grasp the wealth and power, and when they don’t get it they resort to crime. They want to ask questions and seek reliable answers from society and from their life, and when they do not get the answer they find their own way whether it is crime or other wise.
This is a way of the world as they are the youths and sons of this world. WORKS CITED Mercer, Kobena and Isaac Julien. “Race, Sexual Politics and Black Masculinity: A Dossier. ” Male Order: Unwrapping Masculinity. Ed. Rowena Chapman and Jonathan Rutherford. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1988. 97-164. Parrenas, Rhacel Salazar. Servants of Globalization: Women, Migration and Domestic Work. Stanford CA: Stanford UP, 2001. Roley, Brian Ascalon. American Son. New York: Norton, 2001