In the first chapter ("Aria") of Hunger of Memory, Rodriguez, a native Spanish-speaker, recalls entering an elementary school classroom "able to understand some fifty stray English words." The use of the word "stray" here is figurative, used to make it seem as if the words have strayed into his vocabulary from their rightful place.
In the same chapter, Rodriguez recalls the last sight he has of his mother that morning as she drops him off at his classroom: "I turned to see my mother's face dissolve in a watery blur behind the pebbled glass door." His mother's face doesn't literally dissolve; he is figuratively describing how she fades from his view through a piece of textured glass in the classroom's door.
Also in "Aria," Rodriguez uses a simile to describe the effect of hearing his father trying to communicate with an English-speaking auto repair shop employee. Rodriguez recalls, "At one point his words slid together to form one word —...
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