A great portion of Hunger of Memory covers Rodriguez’s childhood and his transformation into an adult. He is the third child of two middle-class Mexican immigrants in Sacramento and has two sisters and one brother.
Rodriguez describes his childhood as ‘‘awkward,’’ primarily because of the tension between his private family life and his more public life outside the household. Before Rodriguez was seven, Spanish was the primary language used in his home. He felt clumsy answering questions in English during class and feared any conversation that went beyond a few basic words. But after a trio of nuns from his school asked his parents to speak only English with their children, his world began to expand. Soon Rodriguez was less shy in school, and he became ‘‘increasingly confident’’ of his public identity.
While Rodriguez credits learning English with helping him become an adult, he also bemoans the fact that his family life, conducted in English, did not have the same, intimate feeling it once had. He and his brother and sisters spoke less with their parents, and the house became quieter. Eventually, Rodriguez began looking more toward his teachers as examples of what he aspired to. While feeling proud of his increasing abilities in school, Rodriguez also began to feel guilty for moving away from his parents. In addition, he...
(The entire section is 1281 words.)
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