Summary of “Hunger of Memory” by Richard Rodriguez

Education has always been crucial for society. Even then, it’s been crucial for many people such as philanthropists, philosophers, businessmen, writers, etc. I remember waiting for the train in the Subway and I donated some money to a homeless person and I remember he specifically told me “I may have lost everything but I still got my education. They can’t take what’s up here”. Education is crucial for everyone because of how people utilize it in society; they use it to shape their views on politics, economics, and people of society.

Particularly, Richard Rodriguez in his autobiography of Hunger of Memory is about a Mexican-American writer who expresses his and character and views on the world through his use of education.

To begin with, Richard Rodriguez presents his view on bilingual education through education. He learned about bilingual education and learning something would shape one’s view and thoughts. To explain, he believes for people who speak multiple languages, they should speak English in the public sphere (school, people, public spaces) and their native language in the private sphere (family).

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He believes this because of his own personal experience. He personally experienced how the nun in his school requested that his parents should speak English to him, and soon enough Richard forgets his native language in the process. He says he couldn’t recognize those “gringo sounds” to convey the loss of intimacy with his family. In addition, the nun at Catholic school even privately talked with Richard’s parents saying he needs to speak English at home since it would improve his academics.

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The nun was not realizing though that she was transforming Richard to be involved in the public sphere, and soon forget his intimate private sphere. It’s also important to note that Richard is writing a reflection of an early period of his life in this part of the autobiography.

Education has always been crucial for society. Even then, it’s been crucial for many people such as philanthropists, philosophers, businessmen, writers, etc. I remember waiting for the train in the Subway and I donated some money to a homeless person and I remember he specifically told me “I may have lost everything but I still got my education. They can’t take what’s up here”. Education is crucial for everyone because of how people utilize it in society; they use it to shape their views on politics, economics, and people of society. Particularly, Richard Rodriguez in his autobiography of Hunger of Memory is about a Mexican-American writer who expresses his and character and views on the world through his use of education.

To begin with, Richard Rodriguez presents his view on bilingual education through education. He learned about bilingual education and learning something would shape one’s view and thoughts. To explain, he believes for people who speak multiple languages, they should speak English in the public sphere (school, people, public spaces) and their native language in the private sphere (family). He believes this because of his own personal experience. He personally experienced how the nun in his school requested that his parents should speak English to him, and soon enough Richard forgets his native language in the process. He says he couldn’t recognize those “gringo sounds” to convey the loss of intimacy with his family. In addition, the nun at Catholic school even privately talked with Richard’s parents saying he needs to speak English at home since it would improve his academics. The nun was not realizing though that she was transforming Richard to be involved in the public sphere, and soon forget his intimate private sphere. It’s also important to note that Richard is writing a reflection of an early period of his life in this part of the autobiography.

Another argument Richard makes is being against affirmative action. Affirmative action is promoting minority groups into higher educational institutions such as prestigious colleges or higher-income jobs and it’s surprising to read about how a minority disapproves of this system;affirmative action increases diversity in college while also displacing people with great determination. Richard believes affirmative action doesn’t help disadvantaged students because it labels all minority groups into one social class. He even says “never able to distinguish someone like me…from a slightly educated Mexican-American who lived in a barrio…:” (161-162). He believed this because of his personal experience. Richard grew up reading many books while ruining the intimacy of his family. He mentally and physically separated himself from his family by reading and reading. Richard knew he was different than what a stereotypical minority looked like. To explain, He recalls one night that he saw Mexican gardeners when he was on his way to his friend’s house to have dinner with his family. The education he learned from Catholic School and how he read many books led him to believe affirmative action isn’t effective because he benefited from it. Richard was already socially benefited from the beginning of his childhood, and he knew that while growing up, so affirmative action just further benefited Rodriguez in getting into Stanford. Richard believes the policy should be implemented in the early stages of schooling for disadvantaged students like he was. To sum up, Richard’s argument on minority policies such as bilingual education and affirmative action were both based on Richard’s personal experience: the early stress of education.

Richard also uses education to describe himself in relation to the world. For instance, Richard Rodriguez believes he is a “scholarship boy” where he identifies as a privileged minority because of how well educated he is. He compares himself to many disadvantaged people, especially in minority groups, by saying he was gifted with the cultures and traditions in American society that allowed him to succeed in life. He also uses it to describe how inadequate his relation is to his family. In chapter 2 of his autobiography, Richard seemed to get his ideas of the “Scholarship boy” from a book by Richard Hoggart and he applies his claims to himself by expressing “His first step towards academic success, away from his family”(51). Richard’s book expressed the idea of how prioritizing education can disintegrate one’s intimacy with family because they’re both very different from each other. Richard’s family speaks more Spanish, a language he’s forgetting, whereas school promotes Richard to speak English more. The fact that he’s deriving this idea from a book and applying it to himself is another product of education. Learning how to read is a critical component of education, and using that ability to read books helps people shape their own views and character, like Richard Rodriguez. He characterizes himself from ideas from a book that he read. Moreover, Richard realizes he’s not just a minority in American society, but more of a gifted minority. Richard even contemplates how it “Has taken me more than twenty years to admit”(47) because the accumulation of education and reading helped Richard’s ability to develop his own thoughts and character.

Education has also shaped Richard’s view of his parents’ relationship. For example, Richard’s mother disapproved of Richard’s personal essays because he was discussing family relations and affairs. Specifically, In chapter 6, his mother complained about “I don’t want the gringos knowing about our private affairs” (193). However, Richard Rodriguez was an English major that required creative writing. In fact, ever since his sophomore year of Richard’s high school, his teacher said that he should “Try writing about something you know more about-something closer to home.”(196) Richard at first tried to avoid exposing his private sphere but then he started to lose pride in his writings, so he decided to be more personal. Richard’s parents have always disapproved of Richard’s passion for writing. In fact, in the dedication of the autobiography, he says “She tells…her neighbors that I am a ‘Ph.D. Professor’… And I am the one in the family with so much education”. Essentially, his mother disapproval of Richard talking about family affairs in his essays and how his mother tells others that Richard is a professor rather than a writer made Richard view his parents as no longer parents. Education has taught Richard to express his voice through words and it changed the way he perceives his relationship with his parents.

In conclusion, Richard Rodriguez shapes his views from many components of education such as expressing his personal voice in writings and deriving ideas from books changed his views on many policies that affect minorities such as bilingual education and affirmative action and how he perceives himself alongside with his family. The title of Hunger of Memory conveys how Richard uses his memories to shape his view of himself and the world. But without the great influence of education in Richard’s life, he wouldn’t be able to develop these unanticipated thoughts from a minority’s point of view.

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Summary of “Hunger of Memory” by Richard Rodriguez. (2022, Apr 01). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/summary-of-hunger-of-memory-by-richard-rodriguez-essay

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