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Tree by F. Sionil Jose

Tree (original 1978; edition 1997)

by F. Sionil Jose

Series: Rosales Saga

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481242,697 (3.75)1
Authors:F. Sionil Jose
Info:Solidaridad/PALH (1997), Edition: 4, Paperback, 136 pages

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Tree by F. Sionil Jose (1978)



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The second part of the Rosales novels is a surprising departure in tone from the previous. In Tree, F. Sionil José allows the voice of a young first person narrator to do the telling. It is a narrative strategy that pays off with its intimate look at the early 20th century rural middle class life in the Philippines under American rule. The narrator, an heir to a powerful landowner, reminisces about his childhood and his relations with the characters (his family's servants, laborers, and farm workers, all below his class standing).

As the character portraits begin to accumulate, we come to know more and more not only about the narrator but about the life of his father as a broker for the landlord Don Vicente. The conflict between the landlord and the landless is set against the backdrop of colonial history and yet the the weight of history and politics is balanced by the moving personal stories of the working class characters. What I'm beginning to like about this series is the ethical dimension and the crisis of faith it assiduously portrays.

I continue, for instance, to hope that there is reward in virtue, that those who pursue it should do so because it pleases them. This then becomes a very personal form of ethics, or belief, premised on pleasure. It would require no high sounding motivation, no philosophical explanation for the self, and its desires are animal, basic—the desire for food, for fornication. If this be the case, then we could very well do away with the church, with all those institutions that pretend to hammer into the human being attributes that would make him inherit God's vestments if not His kingdom.

Tree is one of the two novels collected in Don Vicente. ( )
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