Lit Crit: Hernando R. Ocampo's "We or They"

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Lit Crit: Hernando R. Ocampo's "We or They"

By | Jan. 2011
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The Inconvenient Truth
A New Critical and Marxist Analysis of “We Or They” by Hernando R. Ocampo

The story’s setting of a historical Philippine period portrays strong Marxist undertones that display the social class system and the different types of oppression that was evident during the Commonwealth era such a physical oppression, emotional oppression, intellectual oppression and indirect oppression. Over the years, people all over the world have been oppressed and have oppressed others, and this oppression evolves along with every other element in the human life. From the various social classes present in earlier times, the common social classes in modern times would only be dividing people into two – the bourgeoisie (ruling class) and the proletariat (working class).

During this time the Filipino people are seen as low life servants to foreign comers, even in their own country. “We or They” greatly exhibit the common bourgeoisie versus proletariat condition that was evident even in the reality of the Philippine peoples’ remarkable history.

In the story, we see how every aspect that affect a person’s social class affects every other element related to living, the most evident of which would be politics and economics. “We or They” is a story that also shows that social classes are not only based on the wealth and name of a person but also through the nationality. We or They gives us the impression of a literal story, but there are still a number times symbolism was used. One symbol would be the jute sack carried by Tura and his fellow farmers. The jute sacks they hold used to give them their needs for everyday life and they were satisfied, but as the foreign colonizers came, their jute sacks this time, carried burdens instead of food, nevertheless, they kept their hopes up.

…Tura left the house very early in the morning with a jute sack slung across his right shoulder. Long ago the sack used to contain rice for his family… But now...