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. Background of Carlo Bulosan
1st Filipino-American writer and literary voice of Filipino immigrants in the United States (1930s) Father of Filipino American Literature
November 2, 1911 - September 11, 1956
Most of his youth was spent in the country side as a farmer. It is during his youth that he and his family were economically impoverished by the rich and political elite, which would become one of the main themes of his writing. Like many Filipinos during the time, he left for America on July 22, 1930 at age 17, in the hope of finding salvation from the economic depression of his home. He never again saw his Philippine homeland. No sooner had he arrived in Seattle, was he immediately met with the hostility of racism, forcing him to work in low paying jobs. He worked as a farmworker, harvesting grapes, asparagus and other kinds of hard labor work in...