Hunger of Memory by: Richard Rodriguez Purpose of autobiography: to tell about how Rodriguez’s education moved him from boyhood to manhood. Rodriguez’s journey started as a young child in Sacramento, California in a small house in “a comfortable white neighborhood.” Rodriguez's family was not described as “well-to-do,” but his parents found the money to send their children to Catholic schools. Neither parent had education past elementary school. Rodriguez, could barely speak English when he started elementary school. Finished his academic efforts as a Fulbright scholar in Renaissance literature with degrees from Stanford University and Columbia University. Rodriguez’s journey in “Hunger of Memory” explains how he gave up his Mexican identity in order to access the Western culture. The use of two languages marked the difference • • between his public life and his private life as a child. When Rodriguez was a young child, he spoke primarily Spanish. Spanish was the comfortable language of his home life. English was the language he heard spoken by strangers outside the home. When Rodriguez attended a Catholic elementary school, his teachers were concerned about Rodriguez's poor performance. Teachers (nuns) ask parents to speak only English in the home. This event changes everything, including how he feels at home with his parents. At first he is frustrated with speaking only English. Social Dominance Theory starts to impact the Rodriguez family through “De-Mexicanization” (subtractive schooling) by subtracting students’ culture and language (in this case his entire families culture is subtracted.) His teachers also had Caring relations about school, but not about the individual student. Hunger of Memory by: Richard Rodriguez QuickTime™ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. “One Saturday morning, I entered the kitchen where my parents were talking in Spanish. I did not realize they were talking in Spanish however until, at the moment they saw me, I heard their voices change to speak English.”(Rodriguez, R. Hunger of Memory. ) “I felt my throat twisted by unsounded grief. I had no place to escape to with Spanish. My brothers and sisters were speaking English in another part of the house. I was obliged to hear my mother and father : ‘Speak to us en ingles.” Social Dominance Theory In Rodriguez’s Life At first, Rodriguez felt that the English language is a public language of other people, and that he was not allowed to speak. At 7 years-old, as he starts to speak English in his home and school, he starts to believe that he is an American citizen, not a Mexican immigrant separated and different from los gringos.(Slang word, means foreigner.) As Richard’s education advances, the closeness of his family starts to disappear. Social Dominance Theory Continued….. How speaking only English impacts the Rodriguez Family… Richard and his siblings stay out later and spend time with the kids at school and in the neighborhood, instead of at home. His mother grows more confident speaking English and convinces her husband to buy a telephone. The word gringo loses its previous meaning. Now, it only means an American, who is not Hispanic. The family communicates less, because Richard's parents have a hard time understanding the English that he and his siblings speak more fluently. Richard's mother tries to make small talk and communicate more with the children. His father becomes quiet and shy, often allowing Richard's mother to speak for them in public places, because of his embarrassment when speaking the English language. Hearing families speak Spanish saddens Richard,but he thinks that, in order to fully embrace the English language and a place in public society, one has to lose something. Richard feels that he lost his family closeness for his place as an English speaker. Richard's family and relatives start to call him Pocho, a Spanish word that means an American who forgets their native language, because he no longer speaks Spanish with confidence. Summary: Social Dominance Theory in Rodriguez’s Life Gave up his own identity as a Mexican in order to access the Western culture. In an Interview in 1997 with Scott London Rodriguez stated his journey was not without costs: his American identity was only achieved after a painful separation from his past, his family, and his culture. "Americans like to talk about the importance of family values," says Rodriguez. "But America isn't a country of family values; Mexico is a country of family values. This is a country of people who leave home.” Rodriguez feels that he lost something when he and his family became increasingly Americanized BUT- he discusses that there were also things gained. One being “a public identity" Rodriguez felt he had to make a choice between pursuing a good education by releasing his native background, or pursuing a closeness with his family. (Which would mean not becoming “Americanized”) He does not associate his parents with education (and he feels a guilt for this feeling.) Additional Important Parts of “Hunger of Memory”…. He does not agree with bilingual education proponents who argue that children not taught in their native languages lose their "individuality." He also does not believe that bilingualists understand the necessity and value of assimilation. He hints that bilingual education destroys the separation between the two languages. Rodriguez examined how his dark complexion has defined certain parts of his life. His skin color made him subject to racism, and he said he felt “ugly inside.” His parents discouraged manual labor jobs, as they thought it depicted him as a “Mexican.” Rodriguez believes social class, and not race or ethnicity, is the key indicator for oppression and inability to “advance” in society. Social Dominance ties with Religion Richard feels a connection to Western Culture since he was raised a practicing Catholic. He quickly realizes the difference between Mexican Catholicism and English Catholicism, also tied to social class. Mexican Catholicism has more to do with Christ supplying needs (suggesting his family may have been poor and unable to afford necessities.) English Catholicism shows a dependence on the church for wisdom and knowledge Richard’s family accepts the English Catholicism, despite its differences. Four Language Modalities used by Richard Rodriguez He describes himself as a scholarship boy, a book worm who spent his time admiring his teachers, reading books and correcting his parents' poor English grammar. After many years, he admits that his success is due to never forgetting his life before education, and the change he experienced after getting an education. Four Language Modalities used by Rodriguez 1.) Listening to English came first for Richard Songs on the radio, overhearing English conversation, in stores… 2.) Reading came second for Richard. • Reading was the main reason for Richard’s achievement, solely because of his love for reading. • He used poetry to force remembrance and repetition. • He often struggled walking home with stacks of books from the library. • He locked himself in his room and read books all night. • Described himself as “eager and anxious to learn.” • He asked his 4th grade teachers for names of important books and refused to read children books. He was known to continually check out the maximum amount (10 books) from the library. His teachers used him as a role model for other students to look towards for motivation and good study habits. Upon entering high school Richard had read hundreds of books. His habit of reading made him a confident speaker and writer of English. 3.) Speaking came third --simultaneously alongside with reading 4.)Writing came last--Reading and writing were also hand in hand. He learned one with the other through his strict Catholic education, where he was required to speak out loud, memorize, and copy repetitively. Side note: He expressed concern that he was the type of student who made good grades by simply memorizing information and never developed his own opinions. He read to get the authors opinion instead of forming his own. Recommendations How could we as educators value the assets and address the needs of an ELL like Rodriguez? Value his culture by recommending to continue speaking Spanish and learning to read and write in Spanish simultaneously with learning English in school. (Different time in History when Rodriguez started his education.) Teach the importance of reading for meaning, rather than just reading print and not understanding. Using pictures, socialization with peers, and working with parents at home to help student progress with the English language.