Story Review: My Father Goes to Court by Carlos Bulosan
Carlos Bulosan, the author of “My Father Goes to Court” came from a poor Filipino family in Pangasinan. He was later known as a Filipino American author, poet and activist. One of his best works is “America is in the Heart” which is a semi-biographical novel written in 1946. His other works are “On Becoming Filipino,” “All the Conspirators,” “The Cry and the Dedication,” “If You Want to Know What We Are,” “The Laughter of My Father,” and “My Father Goes to Court.”
The story entitled “My Father Goes to Court” was published in 1943 and depicts two families that have a huge wealth gap between each other. The story circles around how the poor family face adversities in life and the lifestyle of the rich family. Being given an ample amount of wealth, the rich family has a large house and servants. The kids of the rich family seldom came out of their house. Given the fact that the rich family has a great purchasing power, they can buy anything they want and just enjoy these things at the comfort of their own home. Staying too much at home leads to inactivity. This keeps them from being healthy as the story described them as thin and pale.
On the other hand, the kids of the poor family, learn how to appreciate what is already given to them. They play under the sun, enjoy a cool bath in the river, and cherish each other’s company. These are the things that are free and they are pleased to live life as simple as it is. Although, they envy the delicious foods of their rich neighbours, they are just content to smell its aroma. Still, they do not complain because of their financial status. They keep the positivity in the family by giving happiness to one another. They learn how to be happy and contented by whatever there is in front of them.
The rich, upon witnessing how happy their poor neighbours are, and how strong and healthy the poor kids are, decided to shut all their windows. The kids of the rich neighbour no longer go outdoors anymore. It can be inferred in this part of the story, that the rich family got jealous of the poor family. There are also circumstances where people who get rich get blind of their state. They become too proud of themselves. This leads them into selfish thinking that they are superior to the extent that they marginalize those people who have less wealth than they do.
The conflict in the story was presented when the rich man filed a complaint against the poor family. The rich man allegedly accused the poor family of stealing the rich man’s spirit of wealth and food. The accusation was illogical but still the poor family, with the father arrived in the court. In this part of the story, each member of the rich family was described having a poor physical health. Obviously, poor physical health may suggest poor mental health as well. This was proven by the kind of accusation the rich man filed against his poor neighbour. It can be said that the rich man’s thinking was very irrational.
I admire how the father carefully analyzed the situation as the story progressed. The grounds used by the rich man for making the allegations were the following: the family hung outside the rich family’s window and inhaled the spirit of the food that the complainant’s servants cooked, and the members of the poor family have strong limbs and fair complexion while the kids of the rich grew sickly. With these kinds of reasons, the father wittingly asked his children a straw hat and his wife for a fistful of silver coins. Then, the father made a beautiful sound in the other room using the straw hat filled with coins. When he came back, he asked the complainant if he heard the spirit of the money that the father just made. When the rich man said yes, then the father said that he was already paid and the rich man fell to the floor. At that very moment, the case was dismissed and the poor family went home happily with the judge joining them in their laughter.
This story opens our eyes to appreciate small things and be thankful. Some people think that the more money they get, the happier they become. It might be true to some extent but money in reality, cannot buy long term happiness. Over-focusing in a material world creates a society where people constantly compare themselves to one another. Thus, people want more and more and with that, true happiness cannot be felt because greed takes over.
This story also depicts that without good health, money is nothing. The poor children were described having various physical activities in the story that obviously makes people healthier. Being healthy or physically active is the best anti-depressant. In addition, it also affects how our brain works in positive ways.
I would like to end this with a quote of Dalai Lama,
“Man, because he sacrifices his health to gain money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present: the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”