Espada And Richard Rodriguez's Excerpt From Hunger Of Memory

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Oftentimes, people who speak more than one language are seen as intelligent and resourceful. They may receive comments such as, “Wow, that’s so difficult! I could never do that!” But to bilingual individuals, the ability to speak two languages is barely scraping the bottom of the barrel. Two bilingual authors by the names of Martín Espada and Richard Rodriguez have plenty to say about their definition of what bilingualism truly is. They have openly voiced their interpretations in their essays: Espada’s The New Bathroom Policy at English High School and Rodriguez’s excerpt from Hunger of Memory. They believe that being bilingual is about the culture surrounding both languages and the unique identity they provide. Personally, I agree with them. …show more content…
He believes that every language is created equally, and they should be treated as such. He argues that everyone should have the right to speak whichever languages they prefer. Espada promotes this argument when he visits a high school that has banned students from speaking Spanish at lunchtime. Espada holds a hearing with the principal, causing the principal to change the policy. Although Espada accomplished his mission, he remarks, “one of the benefits of being a poet is the opportunity for revenge” (134-135). He follows this with a pointed jab at the principal disguised as a poem: “The boys chatter in Spanish/ in the bathroom/ while the principal/ listens from his stall/ The only word he recognizes/ is his own name/ and this constipates him/ So he decides/ to ban Spanish/ in the bathrooms/ Now he can relax” (Espada, 139-149). No matter what the situation is, Espada takes it upon himself to spread his message: that everyone should be able to speak whichever languages they …show more content…
While Espada speaks English as his first language and Spanish as his second, Rodriguez spoke Spanish first, and later learned English. Rodriguez’s take on bilingualism in our society is closely related to how he grew up. Learning English was something he did out of necessity, in order to more easily adapt to American culture. Rodriguez argues that people shouldn’t be coddled when it comes to language: if they need to learn a language, do it. He provides an example of this in his essay, when he reminisces about his elementary school days. Rodriguez barely spoke any English at the time, but his teachers kept pushing him to learn it and speak it in class. He would’ve felt more comfortable if they had addressed him in Spanish, but he remarks that “Fortunately, my teachers were unsentimental about their responsibility. What they understood was that I needed to speak a public language” (Rodriguez, 27-28). In order to learn English, he had to step outside of his comfort zone and give up the emotional connection he had with Spanish, but it benefited him immensely in the long run. Although at first Rodriguez resisted his teachers’ efforts, he eventually accepted that he needed English as a public language to communicate with the people around

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