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The Price Of Success In Rodriguez's "The Achievement Of Desire"

1977 words - 8 pages

The Price of Success in Rodriguez's "The Achievement of Desire""When you go in search of honey you must expect to be stung by bees"Kennet Kaunda"The Achievement of Desire" in Richard Rodriguez's view does not express the happiness and satisfaction that the fulfillment of a goal such as becoming literate would normally provide, but it is wrapped in irony and connotes the sense of failure and disappointment. Even though "local boy made good," after years, as a graduate student, Richard Rodriguez reaches the conclusion that there was too much of a price to pay for his success. Through reminiscing, Rodriguez becomes aware that his academic success also triggered the loss: "For the first time I realized that there were other students like me, and so I was able to frame the meaning of my academic success, its consequent price- the loss." To become educated, he left his barrio, denied his roots, lost the sense of intimate connection with his family. Furthermore, his life as a "scholarship boy" can best be described as a long, painful struggle between "the desire to achieve" and the longing for his family and "the old ways." Being motivated by a strong and impetuous desire to acquire knowledge, ie, to become educated, he makes the difficult decision of "abandoning" his parents and his life as an ordinary immigrant.In his autobiographical book "Hunger of Memory", Rodriguez displays the story of his education as a boy who has to do his best to overcome the handicap of being an immigrant. In other words, he tries to surpass the prejudices that American society shows towards immigrants. The only method he finds so as to cope with this situation and also to obtain a different status is by means of accumulating knowledge and education. This would bring him for sure the sense of equality and fairness he has been craving for in his childhood. But, at the same time, he is perfectly aware that this cannot happen without affecting him as an individual and also his world outlook and the relationships he has with the others. His disappointment with his condition becomes obvious as one reads the following confession: "I come from another part of the world. I come from South of the border. My parents are Mexican immigrants and this is who I am: this man who has Indian face and a Spanish surname and an Anglo first name, Richard." He also explains "I didn't decide when I was a child walking in the streets that I was going to become an American. I didn't decide, well, today I'm going to become forty percent Mexican and sixty percent Gringo. It doesn't work that way."Even though as a literary genre the text is actually an autobiographical essay, "The Achievement of Desire" may be regarded as well as a bildungsroman. According to The Webster's College Dictionary, the term "bildungsroman" is defined as "a novel dealing with the education and development of its protagonist". The narrator focuses on the "shaping" and "formation" that occurs in an individual's life as soon as...

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