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Richard Riodriquez’s memoir of a bilingual childhood Essay

Richard Riodriquez in his “A Memoir Of a Bilingual Childhood” is recalling his memories about how he felt as a bilingual child in the American society. While doing so and reflecting on these memories, he refutes the idea of “alienating” the bilingual children by educating them through their native language. He presents very interesting thoughts about the true reflections of intimacy and how that relates to language.

Choosing certain words to convey his feelings, Riodriquez engages his readers to sense the change of his attitude towards his identity as an American citizen of foreigner parents. When he reflects on his early childhood, he repetitively uses the words “distant”, “foreigners”, “strain”, “confused” and “hard” to describe his and his family’s interactions with “the others, los gringos”. For him, his safety and family “intimacy” were all symbolized just by speaking their own “private” language that separates them from the “public”. This way, he felt secure as an individual rather than a member of a mysterious huge crowd.

Richard Riodriquez’s tone overall is a reflective emotional one that triggers the readers emotions to feel the same as the writer and agree with what he says. He beautifully uses different tools to achieve that. One tool was his excessive descriptions for his feelings by using clear sentences with many different adjectives throughout his essay. Another tool was his repetitive using figurative language to clarify his thoughts. For example, he wrote “as confused as the threads of blue and green oil in the puddle next to my shoes.” as well as “the clash of two worlds”. Rhetorical questions like “But I would have delayed – postponed for how long?” are another tools that Richard Riodriquez uses to convince his readers.

I liked the beauty of the language Riodriquez expressed his thoughts. Some of the analogies and metaphors he drew were quite powerful and made me feel the gloominess or excitement he felt. I also liked the way he explored and defined identity and intimacy. As he grew up, he found out that interacting with “the others” and speaking their language does not mean losing neither his identity nor the intimacy with his “different” family. Individuality is not by separating oneself from the community as many others believe but it can still be achieved while mingling with the society and owning a “public¬†identity”. I liked how he clearly concluded that intimacy, which he was struggling to protect in his childhood, is not by speaking the same language for example but it is by the meanings behind the words spoken.

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