What does "scholarship boy" mean in Richard Rodriguez's The Hunger of Memory?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The term that Rodriguez uses in his narrative helps to bring out several elements in both his character and the world he inhabits.  The idea of a "scholarship boy" can be seen as economic.  Simply put, Rodriguez is "not meant" to be in the world where economic prowess defines entry.  The "scholarship" is seen as a tool that brings others who would not or could not possess the means to into a world different from theirs.  The idea of a "scholarship boy" also brings to light a cultural sensation of how individuals perceive one another.  The label also refers to how others viewed Rodriguez as a member of this setting.  It demarcates the line between insider and outside, between those in center and on the periphery.  For Rodriguez, he ends up seeing the label as a source of empowerment.  In the idea of appropriating the term to describe himself, he asserts the notion that individuals can take terms that others place on individuals and use it as a source of power, taking ownership of said term and forcing change to become evident.  Rodriguez's narrative is an example of this.  In taking the label of "scholarship boy" and the education that went along with it, Rodriguez is able to write (literally and symbolically) his own narrative where labels that were meant to keep him outside of power are transformed into elements that help derive and achieve it.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What did Richard Rodriguez mean by being a scholarship boy?

Rodriguez is referring to Hogart's book, The Uses of Literacy, in which mention of scholarship boy was made. Rodriguez recognized himself in Hogart's descriptions of scholarship boy, helping him to understand his own experiences. Rodriguez made good grades, memorized and regurgitated information, but he never learned how to form opinions or think for himself. Like scholarship boy, Rodriguez grew nostalgic for his past because he had always denied it.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on