Richard Rodriguez’s ‘The Lonely, Good Company Of Books’

The primary goal of this program was to assist the children of new immigrants by providing school lessons taught in their native languages at the beginning of their American educational experience. The first Bilingual Education Act was passed in 1968 and renewed in 1974. Rodriguez writes these essays in the first person, and his is the dominant voice throughout. This offers readers direct access to his thoughts and feelings, but readers of any autobiographical writings should be aware that everything the author reveals is colored by personal opinions and beliefs. In Hunger of Memory, Rodriguez does not give equal space to those who may disagree with his interpretations of events. Rodriguez expresses concern that he was the type of student who, while making good grades, simply memorized information and never developed his own opinions.

  1. The second way that silence is manifested in the book is as the silence of reading and writing.
  2. Opines that reading in elementary to high school went from being a joyful thing to an unwanted obligation since they’ve given themselves plenty of excuses not to read on their own time.
  3. It is simply the act of transplanting the European cultures to the American continents.
  4. Ideally, the city should be experienced as a field of provocations where we discover our abilities and our limitations in the course of “find grounds for a common life with … others who do not, who cannot, understand” our own experience in its fullness .
  5. No one is quite sure at what exact time reading became more for pleasure than for knowledge, but today, novels are expected to be entertaining and used to relax the mind.
  6. … fever, blisters, a death sentence.” Like the spilled purse of its opening lines, so “Late Victorians” takes on the weight and gravity of all fleshly things.

For people in San Diego, Tijuana represents the border, “meaning a clean break, the end of us, the beginning of them,” while from the Mexicans’ point of view “Tijuana is where Mexico comes to an end” (83–84). To the people in the capitol, as the furthest city from Mexico City, Tijuana “is a city without history, a city without architecture, an American city” .

Moody’s & Manguel’s Passion for Reading

In Spanish there are two verbs meaning “to be,” Ser and Estar. Rodríguez’s rationale for this approach is that since he is writing an account of his education, of his “self-reformation,” the book should reflect the outcome of this process. And in his eyes, the primary benefit of education is the ability to abstract from experience. As far as rejecting his culture, Rodriguez is adamant that this has not happened and cannot happen. In a 1994 interview with Reason, Rodriguez claims that most people see their culture as an unchanging, static thing, while he believes that it is “fluid and experiential.” He contends that he belongs to many cultures and has had many different cultural experiences. Sanderson holds a master of fine arts degree in fiction writing and is an independent writer. In thisessay, she looks at the universality of Rodriguez’s experiences growing up.

  1. Stavens also praises Rodriguez’s literary skills, referring to him as “an extraordinary writer.”
  2. Because Rodriguez is the child of parents who were Mexican-born and -raised, he must be a Chicano (see Rivera, “Antithesis” 410).
  3. Because there is an enormous sense of discontinuity in our lives.
  4. Maybe what is happening in the Americas right now is that the Indian is very much alive.
  5. In Rodriguez’s discussion of his brown body, Danahay finds evidence of repressed sexual desire and Paredes discovers ethnic self-hatred .
  6. We’ve always used it as a place where we could go to after dark and do whatever we wanted that we couldn’t do here.

To write, to address his gringo reader, to assume his public identity, he must disconnect his phone and avoid “complex relationships” with “troublesome” lovers or “troubled” friends . As a graduate student of English literature he derived his opinions from “Frye or Empson or Leavis” or repeated the observations of his professor. When he attempted to write up his notes for his dissertation on Renaissance literature he could produce only “sentences that were overly cautious, timid, strained brittle under the heavy weight of footnotes and qualifications. He began to yearn nostalgically for that ethnic garden from which he had banished himself by his education. No longer at home either in the garden or in school, he at last found his own voice—that singular and somber voice we hear in Hunger of Memory. Suddenly, into the village comes this assurance that you don’t need padrecito.

The Achievement of Desire by Rodriguez Essay

My mother would read to me every single night before I went to bed and sometimes throughout the day. It was the most exciting time of the day when she would open the cabinet, with what seemed to be hundreds how long is a 500 word essay double spaced of feet tall, of endless books to choose from. When she read to me, I wanted nothing more than to read just like her. Eventually I got better at reading alone and could not put a book down.

The universality of the experiences outlined in Hunger of Memory is stressed by many critics, including Paul Zweig in The New York Times Book Review. Rodriguez’s experiences growing up and moving away from his parents may not be so different from the experiences of many other American youths. And this is what has saved the book from becoming simply a two-hundred-page argument against affirmative action and bilingualism. When Rodriguez attended class before his English improved—before the nuns asked his parents to speak English at home—he was anxious, fearful, and couldn’t imagine participating like all of the other children.

Author Biography

Clearly Richard Rodriguez regards that community as living in silence. What one senses in Hunger of Memory is that his parents no longer speak. The sensibility of his writing effort, I dare say, does not come only from his training in the English language, but from those early day experiences when he was taught, I am sure, the way to invent himself in the world by his parents. The great surprise of many of our students who study abroad is that of finding out that not everything is originated in the United States, and that in reality our cultural history is quite short and in many instances limited.

the lonely good company of books by richard rodriguez pdf

While locating Vitoria’s writings within the context of the colonialism it justified, Pagden is equally careful to demonstrate that the debates at Salamanca were not intended to justify that undertaking. Creating a space for himself between these alternatives is no easy task, for if the black and white pages of the Kerner Commission’s “Two Americas” report, the media representations of the 1992 L.A. J. Simpson trial create why college athletes should be paid essay no space for Americans of other hues, Rodriguez argues that Mexico, no less than the U.S., has difficulty accounting for the survival of the Indian. While Mexico may have “taken its identity only from the Indian,” and it may “measure all cultural bastardy against the Indian” , the Indian in this story is a talisman—the natives Junípero Serra saw “go about entirely naked like Adam in paradise before the Fall” .

Affirmative Action

For Rodriguez the imaginative appeal of certain images, certain texts, transcends national boundaries in such a way that, although they may originate in England, they can delight a Mexican American child in California. They may even contribute to his personal history and his sense of himself.

  1. Rodriguez’s beloved Catholic school education insisted that he develop a public identity that was similar to his white, Anglophone peers, which thereby inserted him into a community.
  2. In Beyond Ethnicity, Sollors regards the conflict between descent, Americans’ position as “heirs, hereditary qualities, liabilities, and entitlements,” and consent, their “abilities as mature free agents and ‘architects of fate,’” as “the central drama in American culture” .
  3. Every word written or read is a chance to better yourself or someone else.
  4. The majority of reviewers ignored the fact that this book was primarily about being Catholic in America, not about being Hispanic in America.
  5. Analyzes how graff integrates critical vocabulary into his class so others don’t hesitate to speak intellectually.

Opines that rodriguez’s problem was not with the comprehension of books, but with school. They went through school just going through the motions, from the annoying buzzing of their six am alarm to stumbling out of the bed barely coherent. In Beyond Ethnicity, Sollors regards the conflict between descent, Americans’ position as “heirs, hereditary qualities, liabilities, and entitlements,” and consent, their “abilities as mature free agents and ‘architects of fate,’” as “the central drama in American culture” . Hence Rivera’s sense that Rodriguez’s book remains “paradoxically” a “part” of “Chicano literature” (“Antithesis” 412). In Hunger of Memory Rodriguez never mentions his homosexuality ; it is obviously a factor that would complicate the analysis of this work. For an attempt to incorporate gender identity into the interpretation of Rodriguez’s writing, see Alarcón.

Analysis Of The Lonely, Good Company Of Books By Richard Rodriguez

Days of Obligation also discusses the Asian peoples of southern California. This material lies largely outside the focus of this article. Rodriguez and Williams both play this American against another American who is Spanish and Catholic, a fatalist who lives in the sure knowledge of tragedy and therefore does not fear betrayal by the world. Combining qualities of these two American types, Williams sought an alternative America of reenergized individualism that would overcome the hobbles of the Puritan inheritance. I felt that it was expressly founded for me, personally, and that it must be my first business in life to possess it” , Williams inscribed a national genealogy that reflected his own complex, divided character. For those American “fools” who “do not believe they have sprung from anything” , In the American Grain was to be their family album.

Rodriguez has structured his autobiography less as a timeline of his life and more around six different but important issues in his life. Choose an issue in your life—education, language, family—and write a few pages on this topic as they might appear in your own autobiography. As a girl, Rodriguez’s mother had been given a high school degree by teachers “too careless or busy” to notice what does controlling idea mean that she could not speak English, according to her son. She worked as a typist after high school and was proud that she did not have to put on a uniform to go to work and could spell well without a college degree. After Rodriguez began high school, his mother started back to work again in a typing position. She felt strongly that her children should get all the education possible.

My Personal Philosophy Of Literacy

As a celebrity, Richard’s dark complexion becomes not the reason for ridicule as it is for working class Mexican Americans, but as a “mark of his pleasure.” The hotel clerk in London wants to know if he has just arrived from skiing in Switzerland. The bellhop in New York wants to know if he has been tanning in the Caribbean. His “complexion assumes its significance from the context of his life.” If he had entered the hotel through the service door, his dark complexion would have been perceived differently. But when Richard the narrator appears on the lecture circuit as a celebrity, he is immediately historicized by members of the audience.

What he would relegate to the past is constantly present in the figure of the dark-complected migrant. A “clean” break with the past becomes impossible in a nation whose very formation has been constituted through racializations. Thus, he is actually trapped in-between the “past” that is not past and the “future” that is not present.

Literary Analysis Essay Topics

And there can be this ferocity—you see it in New York now with a lot of Puerto Rican and Hispanic households, the ferocity against the how to start a quote gay movement, the Rainbow Curriculum, for example. I see myself—as a homosexual man—much freer in America than in Latin America.

It calls out attention to itself as if saying “I want to understand myself,” “I want you, the passerby, transition words to introduce a quote to understand me. I want to be; I hunger to be part of your memory.” Graffiti beckons us.

Rosellen Brown Analysis

The Laws of Burgos, established in Spain before the conquest of Mexico, held above all that the Indian was a man of the world. I mention this because it appears to me that one of the greatest preoccupations of Richard Rodriguez is that he “looks” Indian. He worries about what or how he will be perceived by the “Anglo.” These are honest and sincere perceptions. In other words, despite authorial intention as well as the intentions of Chicano critics, a level of socio-discursive resistance always already inscribes Chicano literary production. This novelistic inscription of conflict informs all of Chicano literature, including those works usually excluded from the Chicano canon for political reasons. Rodriguez’s critics could have given him credit for this correct, if unoriginal, analysis, but they have ignored it, their attention magnetized by his opposition to bilingual education, a position both they and Rodriguez believe stabs at the heart of Chicano-Chicana identity. As Anzaldúa writes, “Ethnic identity is twin skin to linguistic identity” .

the lonely good company of books by richard rodriguez pdf

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