Richard Rodriguez was an American writer born in 1944. He wrote several books that gave him media attention. Hunger of memory was his first book released in 1982, and it gave an honest and sensitive experience of the writer whereby he attacked the affirmative action and bilingual education programs. The book talks about the authors experience as a child whereby he went through challenges both at home and at school. Rodriguez work has differing interpretations because he speaks about the challenges he faced because of his origin and appreciates his cultural background.
The book is controversial because Rodriguez talks about how fun school was and how his greatest achievement was as a result, of school but at the same time, he is opposed to bilingual and affirmative action types of education. This paper is going to give differing interpretations and the controversy that is found in Rodriguezs work.Richard Rodriguez workIn the book hunger of memory, the author gives a history of his life, and he explains the complications that he passed through when he tried to balance his home and academic life. He talks about the difficulties he had to go through because at school he was separated from the rest of the students by his cultural background and language barriers (Rodriguez, p.88).
On the other hand, he gives another idea to the reader when he talks about how education was the focal point of his life. He talks about how he desired to get more education and even became a scholarship boy and was proud of losing his Spanish accent. This shows the writer found happiness in school since he achieved all his educational goals. In essay achievement of desire, he says he was separated from his parents at home by the differences in the level of education (Paredes, p.284).
However, with time he started correcting his parent’s grammatical errors. According to the writer, home and school presented two different worlds with different characters. The author is opposed to bilingual education because the supporters do not have a clear understanding of the fundamental nature of education. This is because the principal aim of education according to the writer is to provide the students with their background, which includes public identity and competence. On the other hand, the author feels that affirmative action does not address illiteracy, which is the root problem of low achievement (Rodriguez, p.488). Affirmative action makes the successful students better which is unfair.
The writer says that the two types of education are not interested in his exposition, which he experienced through the two types of education (Soliday, p.519). His writing gives a different interpretation of affirmative action and bilingual education because he talks about how the education helped him, made him a scholarship student, and earned a masters degree because of being one of the Fulbright scholars in London.Rodriguezs writing is contradicting because he talks about how he loved going to school but later on in life he discovered that school was not fun. He talks about how school exists to torture the students because it focuses on the basics, which are numbers and algebra (Rodriguez, p. 8).
He says that school makes students struggle and that it is hard giving the students the wrong idea about education. The interpretation is contradicting because in his earlier childhood life he says that school was fun and the best experience he had in life. This means that school was pure and he enjoyed everything that was connected to learning.The book of hunger of memory looks at the changing relationship of Rodriguez with his Mexican community. He focuses on the ethnic identity and the transition that he goes through instead of looking at the cultural connection he had during childhood.
The book can be interpreted as a way of claiming the American identity during a crucial moment (Rodriguez, p.90). The author says that his greatest achievement was reaching an end to education and the education he acquired changed him. He discovered his passion and identity through education, and he wanted to give back to the community by becoming a teacher. Through education, he learned all the things that he knew in life. On the other hand, the writer interprets education as something that is earned by oneself rather than from books and teachers. This gives different opinions about education.
The work of Rodriguez stresses on the love he has for language and giving evidence of how unilingual classes were important in enhancing his knowledge of the English language in a new country. The writer believes that bilingual language prevents children from learning the public language. According to the writer, public communication is essential in the development and success in the public world (Paredes, p.288). He believes that his success in the public world was as a result, of not being exposed to the bilingual education.
The writer talks of how the people of color do not need affirmative action since it is possible to succeed without this type of teaching. He is against being hired to schools because of his race, and as a result, he turns down jobs. This is contradicting because the people of color need jobs irrespective of the reason for hiring. The book of hunger of memory also focuses on the Catholic Church whereby the writer laments on the changes that have occurred as compared to the rigid and reassuring ways in the past. The author writes about how being a Catholic in America has caused a displacement of his simple life (Soliday, p.511). He is nostalgic about his childhood especially about the Catholic values that were rigid. However, the nostalgia is contradicting because Rodriguez likes the new life he has in America.
The writer criticizes the changes in language, liturgy, and rituals in the Catholic Church saying that the traditional Catholic church was the best (Paredes, p.288). The religion was responsible for shaping his identity because of the mystery and the majesty that were associated with it. On the other hand, the current rituals and language of the Catholic church are simplified and as a result ruined the mystery and the majesty of the church. He is nostalgic about the traditions in the church but at the same time accepts the reality of the new church. ConclusionRodriguez work focuses on education and his experience as a child, and it contains differing interpretations. The writer talks about his childhood and the way he faced challenges at home and school because of differences in the degree of education and the cultural background.
On the other hand, he talks about how education was the source of his happiness and fun (Rodriguez, p.492). The author says that he learned everything through education by either books or teachers. However, he criticizes the bilingual and affirmation types of education despite the fact that he learned through these same methods and became successful in life.
The writer also criticizes the Catholic Church because of the changes in language, liturgy, and the rituals that are not mysterious and majestic like the traditional ones. According to the writer, the changes are not capable of shaping the identity of children in the right way. Therefore, Rodrigues work has controversial, and it requires a critical approach to understanding the writing.
- Paredes, Raymund A. “Autobiography and Ethnic Politics: Richard Rodriguez’s Hunger of Memory.” Multicultural Autobiography: American Lives (1992): 280-96.
- Rodriguez, Richard. Hunger of memory: The education of Richard Rodriguez: An autobiography. Bantam, 1983.
- Soliday, Mary. “Translating self and difference through literacy narratives.” College English 56.5 (1994): 511-526.