My Brother Goes to Court

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My Father Goes to Court
The story is set in a city in the Philippines. The young narrator begins by describing his large family. Though they are poor they are full of mischief and laughter. The children are all strong and healthy even though they often go hungry. In contrast, their rich neighbor’s children are thin and sickly although they are given plenty of good food, which their impoverished neighbors enjoy smelling over the fence. Consequently, the rich man brings a charge against the narrator's family for stealing the spirit of his family’s food. The absurd case goes to court, and the narrator’s father agrees to pay back the rich neighbor. He does this by collecting coins from all his friends present in his hat, then shaking the hat full of coins. Being charged to pay for the spirit of food which his family supposedly got from its smell, he maintains that the jingling of the coins is a fair equivalent. The judge rules in the poor father’s favor, and the rich man is forced to depart with no other payment than the “spirit” of the money the poor man collected. Criticism

This story, along with the others in the collection The Laughter of My Father, has a serious intent behind its humor. In fact, Bulosan was outraged by the focus on his stories’ humor. He said in response to the criticism on the book: “I am mad because when my book 'The Laughter of my Father' was published by Harcourt, Brace & Company, the critics called me ‘the manifestation of the pure Comic Spirit.’ I am not a laughing man. I am an angry man.” Unfortunately, the general consensus about these stories of Bulosan seems to be, as said Avelina Gil, that although they were "[i]ntended to be serious protest against the economic system of his time,” the stories’ “hilarious, even grotesque, situations which Bulosan treats almost like vignettes mask the satire on Filipino poverty and ignorance." L.M. Grow suggest that perhaps what accounts for Bulosan’s anger over the critics’ reaction is...
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