08 April 2014

Individuality

In this excerpt of chapter 1 from Richard Rodriguez Hunger of Memory he describes how he first felt being in an American school. he was shy in class and wasn't confident with his English when asked questions in class he would mumble his answer, as time passed and he learn more English he got more confident in himself. In the book he divulged  how at first his family used to always speak Spanish around the house, soon after a visit from the schools nuns; slowly it was only English that was spoken in his home. He explains how at first he could hear the American accent when people would talk around him, but when he familiarized himself with the words and how they sound he stopped noticing this and stared concentrating on what they were saying “conversations became content-full, transparent.” (pg.21)
Richard Rodriguez purpose for this story might have been to show his audience that even though it is hard to learn a new language and assimilate to a new culture it is necessary to fully gain individuality and confidence. Evidence for this is shown when “I was obligated to hear my mother and father: ‘speak to us en ingles.’” After this he commits himself to learn classroom English weeks after this he raises his hand in class to answer a question “I spoke out in a loud voice. And I did not think it remarkable when the whole class understood. That day, I moved very far away from the disadvantaged child I had been only days earlier. (pg.21)” This shows how confident he has become in himself and he no longer thinks of himself as an outsider he now knows he belongs in public. “In public, by contrast, full individuality is achieved, paradoxically, by those who are able to consider themselves members of the crowd… only when I was able to think of myself as an American, no longer an alien-in gringo society could I seek the rights and opportunities necessary for full public individuality.” (Pg.26, 27) there he explains how being part of the crowd is helpful to achieve public individuality.
I really enjoyed this excerpt because as a person who migrated with my family to the U.S. from a foreign country I can relate to some of the difficulties he went through. Unlike Richard Rodriguez I did attend a bilingual class the first year I stared school in the U.S. I think the class might have helped to some extent, but I still had to learn proper English. When I first started school I was shy to speak in front of kids who already knew the language, over time it didn't matter though because I gradually got better at speaking, writing, and reading English. Something I liked from this excerpt was when he says “The loss implies the gain.” Because I think in order to achieve something greater we might have to sacrifice something.“Ahora, speak to us en ingles.” (Pg. 20)
I find this really funny and ironic, because with my dad it’s the opposite. Every time I speak in English around the house he says “speak in Spanish around the house so you don’t forget!” 


2 comments:

  1. I like your summary of Hunger of Memory, the opening sentence grabs me in and makes me want to read more. I also like the way you relate to the story, thats funny how your dad is the total opposite from the father in the story.

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  2. Great post, Homi! I'm glad this resonated with you, too :-)

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