Individualism In Richard Rodriguez's Hunger Of Memory

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Hunger of Memory is an autobiographical piece of literature that highlights a bilingual’s inner struggle to find his place in society. In the book, author Richard Rodriguez has an open discussion, debating and evaluating different perspectives while also sharing his opinions on individuality and separateness. Torn between two cultures, bilingual speakers struggle to find their place within the education system and the local American english-speaking community. In Hunger of Memory, Richard Rodriguez expresses the difficulty of being educated in his second language and the how it caused him to be an outlier amongst a white, english-speaking community. Rodriguez grew up in the 1950’s, an era where the growth of suburbs was a trend amongst …show more content…
Rodriguez notes the lack of acceptance from neighbors in the community, leaving he and his family feeling rather isolated, “My mother and father were more annoyed than intimidated by those two or three neighbors who tried initially to make us unwelcome.” This feeling of an outlier in the community followed Rodriguez into his schooling and education. Since the Rodriguez family only spoke Spanish at home, Richard started his education in America unable to speak a word of English. As a young boy finding his place in a new school, a different skin color to everyone else, and not being able to communicate with his peers and teachers, it immediately put him at a disadvantage academically and socially. Rodriguez describes his early education as “dazed, diffident, and afraid.” Unable to answer questions when called on in class, the teachers (nuns) struggled to work with him. Looking for ways to solve the issue of Richard’s education, the nuns told the Rodriguez family that if they wanted Richard to succeed in school they would …show more content…
According to Rodriguez, bilingual education was a program proposed in the late 1960’s that sought to permit non-English speaking children to use their family language for their education. He believes that it is not possible for a student to use his family’s language in school and expect to be in a good position within the local and national social latter. He notes that “bilingualists” equate separateness with individuality, rather, bilingualists fail to see the benefits of balancing individuality with assimilation. For Rodriguez, it was when he could consider himself an American that he no longer remained a foreigner in “gringo” society and opened himself up to the opportunities of individuality. In short, he found that when he accepted himself as American was he then able to find his culture and uniqueness. Once finding this balance, Richard was able to take advantage of the American social, political, and economical benefits while still remaining a hispanic throughout his life. Such balance is seen in his example of the right to vote. In many cities around the US you can vote in many different languages. Essentially Rodriguez highlights how one can exercise the most public of rights (the right to vote) while still keeping apart from

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