Hunger of memory

Essay by gmcain09 November 2014

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Michael Cain

Hunger Of Memory

Natives and strangers


In the book 'Hunger Of Memory," Richard Rodriguez walks readers through his journey in assimilating to American culture, and the role that education played in the transformation of his personal identity. Education greatly benefitted Rodriguez by helping him gain a sense of public identity, and aided in the development of mature thinking. Though there were many benefits to his education, his close connection with his culture and family would forever change.

Richard Rodriguez ultimately attributes his discovery of personal identity, which subsequently became the foundation upon which his success was built, to his early education. As a young boy, Rodriguez felt a distinct separation between both his public, and private (home) life. He focuses on how language was the root of this divide. In his younger years, both Rodriguez and his family spoke Spanish in their home. They had a trouble with not only speaking, but comprehending the English language.

He frequently recalls, in painful detail, the awkward feeling of being in public, especially accompanied by his family. This instantly reminded Rodriguez that both he and his family were alien to the outside world. The one place that Rodriguez felt safe was within the confines of his home, where he could speak with his family in his native tongue. This is where he felt a great sense of identity, being able to be addressed as an individual. However, this specific sense of identity would not last. With a simple family visit from a teacher, his life, and even sense of identity, would forever change.

Prompted by the visitation of his teachers, and their concern with his future development, Richards's family was persuaded to enact English as their new primary language. Though this was initially devastating to Rodriguez, it would...