In Hunger of Memory, which person or group does Rodriguez appeal to in his memoir, "Aria"?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Let us remember that "Aria," the wonderful first essay that opens this fascinating collection of essays dealing with the life of a Mexican who has achieved intellectual fame, focuses on his early childhood and education, and particularly the decision of his parents to speak only English at home to help the young Rodriguez to learn English and to become confident and progress in his studies. What is interesting is the way that Rodriguez talks about how he feels after asking his first question in English in class:

The belief, the calming assurance that I belonged in public, had at last taken hold.

For a Mexican to feel that he is only able to "belong in public" when he is able to ask a question in English is a highly problematic statement to make. The essay does indicate the way in which Rodriguez felt he lost something because of his Americanisation, but equally it focuses on the advantages of his position, and he names the various gains he experienced as being a public identity and greater maturity.

Because of his own positive experience of learning English and what he feels he gained as a result, Rodriguez therefore takes umbrage against bilingual educationalists that argue children must be taught in their native languages, or else risk losing something of their "individuality." For Rodriguez, assimilation worked, and this essay is his defence of this position.

The intended audience of this essay therefore is likely to be educationalists who focus on bilingual education but also any parent who is trying to bring up their child to speak English as well as their own language.

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Hunger of Memory

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