Hunger of Memory by Richard Rodriguez

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In Richard Rodriguez’s Novel Hunger of Memory we began to see his journey as the son of Mexican immigrants. Rodriguez’s parents and his ubring play a key role in his beliefs as a catholic.We also see his transition between public and Private live and how it overlaps in his life leading him to be very shy. As he begins to familiarize himself with the American language he becomes very distant and alienates himself from his family.This also eventually leads us to his beliefs on bilingual education and how it makes people lazy to learn the common language spoken.

Rodriguez interactions and beliefs on ideas of race all steam from how his parents introduced it to him when he was younger. This lead him to want to separate himself mainly because he knew he was different.

As Richard Rodriguez defines it as “public”and “private” language. Private language in this instance is spanish. His family embraced spanish mainly as their private language, it was a way for them to connect and communicate.

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Pubic language he defines as the language spoken in school which is English. Rodriguez states “Like others who know the pain of public alienation, we transformed the knowledge of our public separateness and made it consoling—the reminder of intimacy.” and “sounds uttered by los gringos” Rodriguez use of los gringos refers to alienating someone. They are referred to as the white person. The language of the los gringos was seen as the outsider language. The overlap between public and private language was difficult for him because it made him very shy and seek more comfort in private life.

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Rodriguez strongly shows his disapproval of bilingual education. Coming from a immigrants family one would think that he would approve of bilingual education. Rodriguez use of a very direct tone helps him convey his message that bilingual education isn’t good because he believes that students should learn in the public language, it makes them lazy.

Education is apart of developing one’s public identity. Rodriguez begins to go in dept that if children use private language in school through Bilingual education it would motivate people to participate in public life. But Rodriguez realized that his background as a lower class Mexican American student gave him a realization that education was changing him. Rodriguez use of a motivational tone through the book helps the reader envision how hard he work from learning only 50 words to learning how to speak english fluently. This caused him to work hard in school to be able to learn english. Hes was able to establish his public identity and focus on school. Students who don’t use bilingual education experience comfort and community and succeeding in a public society. But with this came many challenges Rodriguez’s family would call him a “pocho” because they believed he was so focused on assimilating into a white culture that he forgot about his mexican roots. After he learned English he felt less connected at home and more connected with English.

Rodriguez relationship with religion first stemed from growing up in a Mexican household. Rodriguez states, “I was in católico before I was a Catholic.” The authors use of spanish helps the reader realize that although the un catolico and a catholic mean the same thing, that the diction behind catolico was to emphasize the spanish version of catholicism. When he was a kid he didn’t really realize the difference how they practiced catholicism at home and at school. In the gringo Church, she was depicted as a “serene white lady” at home, she was “dark like you” and his parents reminded reminded him that the Virgin “could have appeared to anyone in the world, but she appeared to a Mexican.” Rodriguez belives that his Mexican background does not define him, but in this instance growing up in the tradition of Mexican Catholicism has made him a different person if he was raised in the gringos Catholic tradition. Rodriguez uses the Catholic Church for serving as the barrier between his private and public life.Church was his way of connecting the two. Religion is what he considered as being the link between his identity as a Mexican and the new identity he tried to build for himself. Religion is what remained the same no matter what and this helped him feel safe but it kind of contradicts his thoughts about how public and private life should be separate.

Rodriguez soon begins to discover that his race a key role in making him feel like an outsider.But,this all started with his insecurities with his skin color. This started off when his mom would call him “los pobres” if he was in the sun too long. His mother’s use of “los pobres” uses it not only to just insult Rodriguez but, also the diction behind the word is that shes implying that being darker skinned is bad and that having black skin ment lower status because she heavily worried about how “los gringos” would view him. Rodriguez and his family strive for upward mobility.They believed that being darker skinned meant being poor and lower in status. But rodriguez is aware that his skin color will be a problem in trying to become an “upper class child”. His parents relationship has caused him to be very closed off when talking about things like his gender. Literature makes him feel disconnected not just from his cultural heritage but also from his gender.I believe that Rodriguez felt this way mainly because he was surrounded by a lot of white kids and he realize that they were seen as if they were of higher status, so anything that wasn’t seen as that color was seen as an outcast. He was seen as powerless or less manly in his skin color.

Rodriguez also remembers the first time he saw the phrase “minority student” when he was in a college classroom his professor gave him a paper with the comments that said, “Maybe the reason you feel Dickens’s sense of alienation so acutely is because you are a minority student. This was the first time that Rodriguez was labeled as a minority.Rodriguez responds in a very surprising tone. He in a way didn’t want is academic performance to be solely on race.Which is why Rodriguez strongly opposes affirmative action. Rodriguez believes affirmative action is a flawed policy because it does not account for the barrier of race and class. Affirmative action is negative because it promotes inequality based of race, gender and other factors. Affirmative action also undermines minorities because It Implies that all people of the same skin color are from the lower status, and need help. It also reinforces stereotypes. Although Rodriguez began to accept being called the minority student. He realized that he wasn’t disadvantage as other white kids around him were.he was disadvantage in the sense of race and his background.But towards the ends it seems Rodriguez defines un gringo in a new way, not as someone who is an outsider or a white person but rather as someone who has a public identity.

In conclusion Rodriguez’s underlying issues on ideas such as affirmative action, bilingual education and his personal relationship with public and private language is caused ultimately because of his own relationship with his race,religion and his family. Rodriguez interactions and beliefs on ideas of race all steam from how his parents introduced it to him when he was younger. This lead him to want to separate himself mainly because he knew he was different.

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Hunger of Memory by Richard Rodriguez. (2022, Apr 01). Retrieved from

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