Monday, February 4, 2013

Hunger of Memory

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Is the “Hunger of Memory” the same for all?

Hunger is defined as a desire or craving and memory is defined as the ability to remember and recall. I believe Richard Rodriguez has a desire to remember the ways things used to be, the closeness he had with his family. Richards provides an in-depth look into his struggle to find himself and cope with the battles he was dealt. He not only lost the ability to communicate with his family but also had to experience his suffering alone. Although Rodriguez’s family suffered from his “hunger”, he has sacrificed and lost more than any other.

A child pulling away, because he is unable to relate to the family or culture, causes the family as a whole to experience hunger pangs of their own. Rodriguez’s family often had to deal with the embarrassment they felt knowing people are reading personal things about their family’s private life in newspapers and magazines. Also Richard’s family did not read the articles or essay he had written or even knew when they were in magazines. Not knowing what personal things were written about and when these writings were published caused his mother and father to have to worry about what the public knew. His family thought their personal life should not have been used for entertainment. His mother and father did not want to become the “cheap people” they criticized. “My mother and father are not cheap people. They never are tempted to believe that public life can also be intimate” (184).

My senior year of high school I had to deal with a similar situation. I was asked to be a leader for a religious retreat for which I had to write a 0 min talk about my life. In order to do this I would have to mention my family and speak about private issues that had always been kept inside. When I asked my mom if she would be okay with it, she was hesitant. My mom did not “want the families dirty laundry hung out for all to see”. Much of my struggle had to do with my father. My father did not want me to write about my personal life because he did not want to be perceived as anything less than he is today. My mom and dad never read what I wrote nor did they fully support me, but that is something I had to deal with because I knew my struggle would help someone much like Rodriguez’s has helped me.

Though it is hard to compare people’s pain, I believe Rodriquez sacrificed and had to deal with more loss than his family. With Rodriquez’s choice to pursue education he lost his culture, felt divided from his family and had to go through a difficult time in his life alone. Yes, this may have been his choice and he should have to deal with the consequences of his action, but to go through it all alone, with out his family must have been very hard. Rodriguez gave up these things because he wanted to not only become better through education for himself, but also for his family and culture.

Throughout the years of his education, Rodriguez lost a part of his culture because others thought it would prevent him from reaching his goal. Rodriguez had to stop speaking Spanish in the home in order to fully perfect his English. “In an instant, [my parents] agreed to give up the language [Spanish] (the sounds) that has revealed and accentuated our family’s closeness” (1). That was not a choice he actually made, his teachers suggested that to his mother and father and they made the decision to only speak English in the home. The decision not only affected Rodriguez’s education but his communication with his family as well.

Rodriguez’s mother and father did not speak English very well which caused the communication between members of the family to be very minimal. “The family’s quiet was partly due to the fact that, as we children learned more and more English, we shared fewer and fewer words with our parents” (1). This not only distanced Richard from his mother and father but also from his siblings. Richard would separate himself from the rest of his family to concentrate on his studies. He would spend hours in his room reading books for fun. In a sense he was preparing himself from the lonely road ahead. Richard’s loss of his culture and division from his family lead him to a lonely life just like when he was a child.

Richard’s pain is far worse than that of his family because he must deal with it by himself. After Rodriguez decided to become a writer he said, “a New York editor told me that I would embark on a lonely journey” (175). He must live with himself everyday knowing the actions that he did as a young man created a gap between. He now must work hard to re-gain his culture and family. I believe the last chapter Mr. Secrets shows Rodriguez’s desire to have his culture and family in his life. He proves he is not ashamed of neither his culture nor his family. He is working on his Spanish and is continuously apologetic to all those who he has lost or hurt.

I know this must be hard for Richard. He yearns for what he calls “memory”. He wants to remember all the things he has lost. Though Richard does not regret the sacrifices he had to make in the past, he clearly has learned from them. This is very painful for him and he proves to have gone through the most pain.

(High Potential Program)

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