Masterplots II: Nonfiction Series Hunger of Memory Analysis
As an eloquent and accomplished Mexican-American with impressive academic credentials, Rodriguez serves as a model and example of the triumph of the underprivileged individual. His success was achieved through individual and family effort, by overcoming his own past, rather than through outside intervention or institutional and governmental supports. Many white readers, especially critics of bilingual education and affirmative action, have embraced him as their spokesperson and point to his rejection of these programs as proof of their worthlessness.
Rodriguez is, in fact, a vehement critic. He considers bilingual education programs—which were unavailable to his generation—ineffective and even detrimental. He explains his rapid progress in school, to a large degree, by the willingness of his family to abandon domestic intimacy—the use of Spanish, the language of home—and adopt English, the public language. His parents, Rodriguez relates, agreed to speak English at home, however artificial the language and halting their command of it, when the nuns, their children’s schoolteachers, persuaded them that it was in their best academic interest. He ceased being Ricardo and became Richard.
As his parents stopped speaking Spanish, Rodriguez perceived a loss of intimacy. At the time, he associated intimacy directly with the language itself and believed that family closeness and warmth were possible only in Spanish. While he was never able to...
(The entire section is 1134 words.)
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