Scholarship Boy's Odyssey: Education, Identity, and Familial Bonds


Richard Rodriguez's autobiographical essay, "The Achievement of Desire," provides a compelling exploration of the challenges faced by a "scholarship boy" striving to reconcile the conflicting spheres of his academic and familial life. Rodriguez's narrative unfolds as a poignant journey of self-discovery, revealing the complex dynamics between education, personal identity, and familial connections. This essay delves into Rodriguez's transformative experiences, shedding light on the evolution of his relationship with education and its profound impact on his sense of self.

The Scholarly Alienation

As Rodriguez navigates his educational journey, a stark dichotomy emerges between his scholastic pursuits and his familial ties.

In the third grade, the seeds of this division were sown as Rodriguez, consumed by an insatiable thirst for knowledge, began to distance himself from his family. His refuge in a closet, engrossed in literary treasures like "Great Expectations," "The Lives of the Saints," and Plato's "Republic," marked the onset of his scholarly alienation.

This scholastic devotion led him to forsake familial responsibilities and isolate himself, prioritizing academic enrichment over familial bonds.

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Rodriguez's immersion in literature was not merely a rebellion against his parents' limited education; it was a fervent quest to fill the void within him, a pursuit to attain a level of education that transcended the confines of his familial background.

Although his family supported his academic aspirations, Rodriguez attributes his educational zeal predominantly to his teachers. Their guidance and mentorship fueled his intellectual curiosity, propelling him toward an academic trajectory that would eventually reshape his identity.

Revelations and Reconciliation

At the pinnacle of Rodriguez's educational odyssey, while penning his dissertation in England, he serendipitously overhears a conversation between two Spanish scholars.

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This moment serves as a catalyst, prompting him to reflect on his journey and attempt to reconnect with a childhood seemingly erased by his academic pursuits.

Returning home after completing his dissertation, Rodriguez experiences a poignant realization. Despite cherishing the simplicity of his familial bonds, he recognizes the profound transformation he has undergone. The scholastic dedication that propelled him to intellectual heights has irreversibly altered him, creating a chasm between the person he has become and the life his parents embody.

While Rodriguez yearns for the past, he confronts the inevitability of change. The years of unwavering dedication to educational success have shaped him into a different individual, rendering a return to his familial roots an impossibility. The juxtaposition of his altered self with the familiar surroundings of his childhood home evokes a poignant sense of nostalgia and regret, illustrating the price paid for the pursuit of intellectual attainment.


Rodriguez's "The Achievement of Desire" stands as a testament to the transformative power of education and the intricate interplay between academic pursuits and personal identity. His journey, marked by scholarly alienation and subsequent reconciliation attempts, offers profound insights into the complexities of self-discovery and the sacrifices inherent in the pursuit of knowledge.

As we reflect on Rodriguez's narrative, we are reminded of the nuanced relationship between education and familial bonds. The essay prompts us to contemplate the evolving nature of identity in the face of educational endeavors, urging us to consider the sacrifices and transformations that accompany intellectual pursuits.

Written by Lucas Davis
Updated: Jan 18, 2024
Keep in mind: this is only a sample!
Updated: Jan 18, 2024
Cite this page

Scholarship Boy's Odyssey: Education, Identity, and Familial Bonds. (2016, Dec 24). Retrieved from

Scholarship Boy's Odyssey: Education, Identity, and Familial Bonds essay
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