Richard Rodriguez opens Hunger of Memory with a reference to Shakespeare’s The Tempest: “I have taken Caliban’s advice. I have stolen their books. I will have some run of this isle.” He alludes to the recommendation that the creature gives Stephano and Trinculo about how to kill Prospero and take over the magical island.
After being exiled to this island, Prospero used his books on sorcery to subdue nature on the island and to control its sole inhabitant, the half-monster Caliban. When a second shipwreck strands more people on the island, Caliban seizes the opportunity to shake off Prospero’s shackles by advising castaways Stephano and Trinculo about how to overthrow him.
First to possess his books, for without them
He’s but a sot, as I am...
Caliban knows that the secret to Prospero’s power is his books. Similarly, Rodriguez realizes that the way to gain power in American society is through books. He began life as a disadvantaged minority, but he became a celebrated...
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