Autonomy and Self-actualization
Rodriguez and P’u Yi were two men who received very different educations, and who had very interesting lives. There were many similarities and differences between the two men, both in their education and their experiences. For example, both men were educated somewhat in English culture, but were not English. However, P’u Yi’s life was far more in the spotlight than Rodriguez’s was. In general, their lives were fascinating.
Rodriguez grew up in America, although he was of Mexican descent. His parents spoke Spanish as a first language, and learned English later. Although they could speak English and both had decent jobs in America, they always spoke with an accent and sometimes could not pronounce words, something that embarrassed Rodriguez whenever they spoke with his friends or teachers.
P’u Yi grew up in Manchuria, which is in China. He spoke only Chinese from the time he was young until he had a British tutor around age nine or ten. Unlike Rodriguez, he barely knew his parents. He did not live with them, because he had been the emperor (on and off) since he was only three. He had incredible power within the country, something he made use of frequently.
Rodriguez and P’u Yi were very different, indeed. Rodriguez lived a rather modest lifestyle his whole life. He had a small home with his brother, sisters and his parents, and they barely made it to middle class by the time he was in high school. P’u Yi, on the other hand, was very rich and spoiled. He had food available to him at all times of the day and night, and never went anywhere without an entourage. All of P’u Yi’s demands were answered almost as soon as he made them.
P’u Yi made a habit of demanding things frequently. He demanded meals, walks, and games. He was upset upon meeting his brother and sister for the first time (something else that was different from Rodriguez, who had known and lived with his siblings his whole life) because his brother was said to be wearing yellow, a sacred color. His every whim was answered easily and immediately, and he learned to always go after what he wanted, and to never back down.
Rodriguez was very different. Although he started showing off at a young age, in second grade, he quickly learned humility and stopped showing off. He was more likely to lock himself in a closet to read than to join the rest of the family in the kitchen. Rodriguez had to work hard to keep his life to himself, because his school life and his internal thoughts did not match the life that he had at home, with his parents, who were truly working class people.
However, there were similarities between Rodriguez and P’u Yi. Neither ever really felt that close to their parents. P’u Yi never really saw his parents, and Rodriguez felt that his did not understand him. However, both of them really felt pretty independent from a young age, and both were actually very independent when they were young, albeit for very different reasons.
Both Rodriguez and P’u Yi were interested in teachers. Rodriguez worshipped all of his teachers, and often stayed afterschool to “help” them, which really translated into his wanting their complete attention. His teachers, to him, were the epitome of how he wanted to be, which is why when he was older, he announced his plans to become one. P’u Yi did not love all teachers, but he did develop a special friendship with his British teacher, who taught him to speak English. Although this man was said to be fairly unfriendly and sad, P’u Yi was still close to him by the time their tutoring was done.
American and English culture in general (Western culture) fascinated both Rodriguez and P’u Yi. Upon learning more about the West, P’u Yi wanted to be involved with some of the things that they did and they ways that they thought. Rodriguez also loved American culture. He proudly announced at home that his teachers said he was losing all trace of his Spanish accent (something his parents probably did not find to be such a good thing), and he wanted to learn all there was to learn from English books.
In addition to schooling, both Rodriguez and P’u Yi had some interesting life experiences. Both had fairly lonely, secluded lives, but for different reasons. P’u Yi’s experiences were because he was an emperor. People were constantly trying to threaten him, and for that reason, P’u Yi’s education and life in general were interrupted many times. In fact, P’u Yi received a very sketchy education overall. He also was forced to marry young, and to pick a girl from pictures provided to him. If his choice was not “acceptable,” he was asked to pick again, or kind of suggested who to pick. P’u Yi went along with these suggestions, at least publicly. He chose all of the brides who were considered most appropriate for him, whether he wanted to or not. (Privately, it is suspected that he never consummated his marriages. It is also known that he did not have a good relationship with his wives, and that they treated each other coldly.) He also pretended to switch to Shintoism when the Japanese demanded it, and spoke publicly of great it was. Privately, he was quite obviously a practicing Buddhist.
Rodriguez was not in the spotlight the way P’u Yi was, and in fact seemed to avoid it. He became a master at dodging questions or comments he did not like (such as “Your parents must be so proud,”) by smiling or making a simple response. In a way, Rodriguez was similar to P’u Yi, because he did not allow people to see how he was really feeling about things. However, in other ways, Rodriguez was headstrong and he did as he pleased. Rodriguez felt guilty for wanting an education, even though his mother pushed the issue, because he knew it would separate him from his family further. However, he really wanted the education, so he pursued it anyway. He even applied and was accepted to Stanford, and persisted in going even as his mother made passive-aggressive comments about how far away and expensive the school was.
Both Rodriguez and P’u Yi were ultimately determined to have what they wanted. For Rodriguez, it was a good education and a solid future. For P’u Yi, it was to be the emperor again. Both men went about achieving their goals differently. Rodriguez pushed straight ahead, with no straying, and he did so quietly. Even though his life became more and more different as he grew up, he continued along the path he had set for himself. P’u Yi, on the other hand, had many setbacks in his quest. More than one group attacked the city and overthrew him, so remaining emperor was not an easy task. Additionally, he was forced to move a handful of times, and consult with different groups (namely the Japanese) before he could achieve his quest. However, he did not give up, he kept going after it even though he was often thwarted.
P’u Yi and Rodriguez were both strong, interesting men. Both were from cultures other than American or other Western worlds, but both learned to embrace the Western culture to some extent during their lives. Both abandoned the lives that were originally destined for them to pursue a higher, better goal. Both had many obstacles, both in education and in their family lives to pursuing these goals, but both went after them as best they could.
In time, Rodriguez and P’u Yi both found themselves where they wanted to be, no matter how interesting and long the road had been before they achieved their goals. Both were good men, and private men, who lived in worlds where they were constantly surrounded by others making comments about them.
P’u Yi had to listen to all of his aides, and all of the different governments tell him what to do. Rodriguez only had to listen to his family. However, both men felt strongly that these opinions mattered, and they weighed heavily in the decisions the men made in their lives.
A lot can be learned from these men and their experiences, and how they learned to achieve their goals and overcome the difficulties they had in their early lives.