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Broad Analysis Assignment

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In Hunger of Memory, author Richard Rodriguez describes his experiences as a Mexican immigrant. He tells anecdotes about his childhood in order to analyze the pressures which culture change imposed on him. Rodriguez also experienced guilt because he felt he had abandoned his Mexican roots by learning English, ceasing to speak Spanish. He then comes to the realization that intimacy is found in the feeling between two people conversing, not in the language in which they are conversing. Richard in the process of self-visualization becomes annoyed with himself and certain things that he sees around him.

Rodriguez is ashamed. He is ashamed with the fact his espanol is no longer his main language. The author presents, "I grew up a victim to a disabling confusion." (229). In this passage he explains how he was victimized by the transition that was beginning to take place on his mind and all around him. He was torn between his desire to assimilate into American culture and his desire to remain true to his Chicano roots. He is a "Mexican-American who, in becoming an American, forgets his native society" (230). This is what caused him to have feelings of guilt and betrayal. Rodriguez says, "I knew that I had turned to English only with angry reluctance." His desire to assimilate was fueled by the feeling of being ostracized by his peers rather then by a desire to forget his past. Richard never wanted to be in this situation in the first place. He was victimized by this transition; he was brought to this point involuntarily, and he now felt that he, "somehow committed a sin of betrayal by learning English." This portrayal by Rodriguez shows tremendous confusion and an inner struggle. This could not have been, considering it was not his decision to come to America to begin with. In his mind he believes he may have done something wrong.

The next step arrives Rodriguez asks, "But betrayal against whom? Not against visitors to the house exactly. No, I felt that I had betrayed my immediate family." (231) He wonders at this point whom he has betrayed and to add more to this confusion on his mind Rodriguez goes on to answer his own question. How could that be? If the goal of immigrating to America was for him to probably and most likely learn this new language and assimilate his anglicized culture as effectively and as best as he could. The author shows how this goal was met and he also shows a sense of regret by this accomplishment when he mentions, "But once I spoke English with ease I came to feel guilty (this guilt defied logic)" (231) It is believed that this logic of immigrating to America is to live as an American in every perspective, and to do so one must make choices that will probably be of a contradictory nature. Rodriguez took on tremendous amount of responsibility for these changes. He took more responsibility than he probably should have; due to circumstances beyond his control he reached the stage he was in. Rodriguez portrayed this feeling when he mentioned, "I felt that I had shattered the intimate bond that had once held the family close. This original sin against my family told whenever anyone addressed me in Spanish and I responded confounded." (231) His family members and his Americanization had taken that bond away. He felt that losing his ability to speak Spanish removed his ability to communicate with his family on an intimate level. Spanish used to be a secret bond between them and what tied them together.

Rodriguez shows how even language barriers can be overcome with intimacy. He showed that even old bonds could be made new. He introduces us to the relationship he had with his grandmother. This relationship with his grandmother displayed a bond that could not be broken, he explains this when he mentions, "The communication of intimacy passes through the word to enliven its sound. But it cannot be held by the word but on person." (234) He demonstrates that the intimacy was much more that just the word that was being spoken, it was an affective connection that one person transmitted to another. Despite Richard's grandmother being a Mexican. "A woman of Mexico." (234) And the fact that it made no difference for her and that she had in learning about the States as described, "She had no interest in gringo society." (234) She still managed to accept her grandson and demonstrate her love for him. This realization about the nature of intimacy enabled Rodriguez to regain his bond with his family. Richard showed this being displayed when he starts listening to his own people speaking his new adopted language, "After such moments of intimacy outside the house, I began to trust intimacy conveyed through my family's English." (231). He begins at this time to feel somewhat more comfortable with his family and realizes that the Americanization process that brought them closer together. He feels closer to his own mother now because he understands, through non-verbal means how much she cares for him. This is shown by this sentence, "and she looked over at me. Smiled. Said something-her words said nothing very important. But her voice sounded to tell me (We are together) I was her son." (232) But things weren't always this pleasant for Richard.

Before transitioning to the level of comfort-ability, the author shows how hard it had been for him in the beginning stages. His family was critical of him and his uncle and other adults bullied him. All because of the simple fact that he did not speak Spanish effectively, they felt that maybe he wasn't good enough for them. Their ignorance and lack of understanding contributed to this. Due to his fear of being noticed, Richard was afraid his incompetence would surface. He became apprehensive and shy. This phobia was ever present when he mentions, "I'd know the words I wanted to say, but I couldn't manage to say them." (230) This phobia cost him. It brought humiliation and isolation upon him. He later describes how he was nicknamed, paying yet another price for his transition to the new world: "Pocho they



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