Rodriguez, Anzaldua and the American Dream
I find it interesting that while Rodriguez and Anzaldua came from comparable backgrounds they feel very differently about similar issues. Rodriguez believes that education should not be bilingual for children who come from Spanish speaking homes. Anzaldua on the other hand thinks that people should not be squashing the culture of these people, and should do what they can to help them preserve it. I think that in that sense one could compare Anzaldua and Rodriguez to the idea of American culture, as each are one extreme of how we view it. On the one hand we have Anzaldua, the idea that America is a melting pot, combining all of the different cultures of the different people living here to come up with a new different stew, she is the idealized thought of how America is. On the other hand there is Rodriguez, who thinks that the only way to succeed is to assimilate to the culture that is there and give up your old culture, this is the more cynical, and in some ways, more realistic view.
Now Anzaldua is not completely oblivious to the fact that one has to, assimilate. This is proven by how well known and respected she is. In order to get to where she is she had to assimilate, just as Rodriguez did. However the difference is that while she was assimilating under duress, Rodriguez leapt at the chance to assimilate. Anzaldua while putting on a mask that matched the majority culture was still the same culture underneath. Rodriguez, on the other hand, changed the very culture he identified with. While she still identified with the culture that had managed to survive under oppression for hundreds of years, he flung off the culture of his immigrant parents and accepted the majority culture of America. I think this also explains the difference in their views. Both of them faced similar situations. Children who mostly spoke Spanish at home. However the place they lived in was very English oriented, and they couldn’t really get by not knowing English and knowing it well, being able to use it. They both faced this situation in the way that they thought best, Rodriguez by assimilating, and Anzaldua by seeming to assimilate while keeping the same culture underneath.
Both were trying their best to cope with the fact that the they’re schools would not let them speak Spanish, as Anzaldua says,
“I remember being caught speaking Spanish at recess-that was good for three licks on the knuckles with a sharp ruler. I remember being sent to the corner of the classroom for “talking back” to the Anglo teacher when all I was trying to do was tell her how to pronounce my name. “If you want to be American, speak ‘American.’ If you don’t like it, go back to Mexico where you belong.”
Both solutions have merits and downsides. Anzaldua still has her culture from when she was a child. She therefore can still be as close to her family. However she now has to constantly defend her culture from other people, and she has to speak in a...