Hunger Of Memory By Richard Rodriguez

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Richard Rodriguez’s autobiography, Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez, depicts his transformation from a socioeconomically disadvantaged first generation child of Mexican-American immigrants to a successful author, academic, and intellectual. During his metamorphosis, however, Rodriguez goes through an arduous process of assimilation that grants him a mastery of the English language and an embrace of American culture at the expense of his cultural heritage. His struggle to find a balance between these two worlds is prevalent throughout his autobiography, demonstrating the complex nature of identity and the manner in which language and culture impact it. In the text, identity seems to be formed at times around perceived similarities, …show more content…

According to Bucholtz and Hall, the tactic of adequation frequently forms the foundation of identity, which then tends to be impacted and transformed through a multitude of social variables in the pursuit of achieving group uniformity (Rodriguez, 1982, 383). Rodriguez illustrates the presence of this tactic as the autobiography details his change from a child of Mexican immigrants who struggled to speak English to an assimilated student with a proficiency in the language. Such an accomplishment is a source of particular pride for Rodriguez, who writes, "Proudly I announced...that a teacher had said I was losing all trace of a Spanish accent" (Rodriguez, 1982, 46). Rodriguez’s expression of joy at the loss of his accent highlights his successful adoption of new linguistic attributes that provide him with the ability to blend in seamlessly in the society of his peers. This enables him to assert a public identity that endows him with the means to express himself outside of his household, which ultimately establishes his complete identity. Although Rodriguez maintains his original private identity, this public addition through deliberate adequation allows him to identify with a broader group that has access to greater opportunities. As mentioned by Rodriguez in the text, “I became a man by becoming a public man” (Rodriguez, 1982, 6). By becoming a figure with the …show more content…

Bucholtz and Hall provide the contextual framework for this in the following passage: “Such speakers negotiate their identities with their peers by using language to variously play off dichotomies of …language (Spanish-speaking versus English-speaking), and immigrant generation (English dominant second generation versus Spanish-dominant first generation). Distinction…may …produce differentiation along multiple axes simultaneously” (Rodriguez, 1982, 385). In practice, the application of this tactic can result in the speakers of a specific language casting out members of their community who no longer appear to embrace their culture. Such is the case for Rodriguez, who is rebuked within the Mexican American community for losing his ability to speak Spanish. The rejection he experiences repeatedly occurs throughout the text, such as when a woman working in a Mexican grocery shop refers to him as “Pocho,” which means “‘colorless’ or ‘bland’” (Rodriguez, 1982, 29). Furthermore, a friend of Richard’s father who visited the family would tease him over his inability to speak Spanish, grabbing him painfully by the arms and asking him questions in the language (Rodriguez, 1982, 30). His uncle also explains, “‘what a

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