Richard Rodriguez's Hunger Of Memory Essay

1021 words - 4 pages

Richard Rodriguez's Hunger of Memory


The universal "growing pains" that all children experience

in one form or another are easily recognized in Richard

Rodriguez’s autobiographical excerpt from Hunger of Memory.

Rodriguez’s childhood was particularly unique given the fact

that while he was born and raised in the United States, he

was strongly influenced in the ethnic environment of a

Spanish family. Although the reader is introduced to only a

short excerpt from the autobiography, he learns a great deal

about Rodriguez’s family and his relationship to it, his

conflict of speaking English versus Spanish, and the

paradox that became evident as he used English as his

primary language. Furthermore, the reader learns that

Rodriguez’s experiences have contributed to his beliefs that

a bilingual education is harmful.

First of all, Richard Rodriguez came from a family

where his parents had been born and raised in Mexico. After

moving and settling in America, Rodriguez’s parents gave

birth to him and his siblings. Rodriguez refers many times

to "los gringos" , a colloquial, derogatory name charged

with "bitterness and distrust" with which his father

described English speaking Americans. This evidence made it

apparent to the reader that definite animosity existed

between his parents and the society around them.

Resultingly, assimilation into the American culture was not

a very comfortable process for his parents. Despite this,

the authors parents created a comfortable haven for him and

his siblings in their adopted country. The author shares

with the reader how close and tightly-knit his family was.

He describes in numerous instances the "special feeling of

closeness" that he shared with his family. He also mentions

the fact that he used to feel a "desperate, urgent, intense"

feeling of wanting to be home. Spending time at home,

speaking his "personal" language of Spanish, and being with

his family gave Rodriguez comfort and a feeling of safety

that was not felt outside of his home.

Rodriguez was forced to leave that comfort and safety

every morning though once he began attending school. The

author describes hearing the cold, harsh sounds of the

English language and wishing that his teachers would welcome

him in Spanish, instead. The author explains that, as a

child, he regarded Spanish as his own personal language. In

his autobiography, at the young age of seven, he did not see

himself as an American citizen like the other children in

his class, and this discouraged him from readily learning

English.

Ultimately, Rodriguez did learn to speak the public

language. Some of the teachers at Rodriguez’s school were

concerned with his and his siblings unresponsiveness in

class and their unwillingness to speak English. They spoke

with...

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