In his autobiography Hunger of Memory, Rodriquez unintentionally portrays himself as an exception to his own beliefs. (Rodriquez 12) This book tracks this Mexican American from the time that he was a "schoolchild until he became a literary scholar and nationally acclaimed memoirist. His memoir also describes his gradual alienation from his cultural roots as his assimilation into mainstream culture deprives him of his native tongue and his connection to his past. The book achieves popularity at a time when multiculturalism is becoming a force in American education." (Burt 2004)
In order to make sense of the factors that make up Rodriquez's life, he chooses his love for languages to explain how his persona is formed. Rodriquez surmises that it is better to have used English in school rather than to have had a bilingual education. As he struggles to prove this, he represents himself with a paradox of emotions, thoughts, and beliefs. It is his opinion that it was the different uses of languages and his reaction to them that sets him apart. According to Rodriquez, "It is not possible for any child ever to use his family's language in school. " He thinks that "not to understand this, is to misunderstand the public uses of schooling and to trivialize the nature of intimate life and a family's language." (Aria 13)
In his writings Rodriquez appears to...
In his failure to study these anomalies, Rodriquez does a disservice to himself.
When he started school, Rodriquez could only speak "fifty stray English words." (Rodriquez 1) Unlike his brother and sister who attended a Roman Catholic school, Rodriquez went to an all white school with children whose parents were professionals. In his mind, this must have presented a sharp contrast to his own parents who were poor and spoke little English. During this time, he also observed that his brother and sister enjoyed a relationship of togetherness, one that left him feeling alone. His sense of alienation continued to grow as he listened to them " communicating among themselves in Spanish." (Rodriquez 1)
Rodriquez has been criticized for cutting himself off from his roots. A better argument would be that the languages barriers that were forced upon him caused this gap. Had he been given a bilingual education this would have been different. Instead of living in language compartments at his home and school, his new English language would have blended into that of his native tongue. As his brother and sister did, Rodriquez would have used both languages interchangeably.
If one reads Rodriquez's work closely, they sense his great affection for his family. The feelings of shame that he talks about are more general than personal. Nevertheless, it is easier to attack the character of Rodriquez than to discover the bonds that exists between him and his people in spite of their physical and psychological differences.
While addressing the relationship between his brother and sister, it is evident that he has the feeling that he is an only child. Rather than to see how a bilingual education might have made a difference, he chooses to feel