Before John Fante’s stories about Filipinos and Carlos Bulosan’s autobiography were published, William Saroyan’s depiction of Filipino migrant workers provided one of the earliest representations of a minority doomed to invisibility and silence during the 1930s and 1940s. This article offers a careful reading of the Filipino’s presence in his fiction through an analysis of the narratorial techniques deployed and the symbolism of the characters in two of his stories, “Our Little Brown Brothers the Filipinos” (1936) and “1924 Cadillac for Sale” (1938). In the first, by resorting to the tradition of the tall tale in a boxing story, the author disavows the raconteur’s ideology of racism and the hegemonic belief in the Great White Hope. Ramon’s victory signals the suspension of the alleged inferiority of the “brown savages” and becomes the stand-in justification for the long-overdue vindication of his people. Simultaneously, by allowing the Filipino farmhand to fix the jalopy in the second title, Saroyan manages to resurrect the pastoral ideal of America, thereby reviving the belief that marginalized immigrants, and not machines, can still be the driving force of the nation weathering an economic crisis.


Saroyan’s fiction, Filipinos in the great depression, counter-hegemonic strategies of ethnic representation, boxing literature, ghetto pastoral

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)