In order to have an abundance of success people sacrifice many things. Richard Rodriguez is a wonderful example of this statement. In his book, “The Achievement of Desire,” he writes, “l was able to frame the meaning of my academic success, its consequent price- -the loss” (517). Rodriguez frames the meaning of his success in relation to Hostages “scholarship boy’ by being a dependent thinker, high-strung, and respecting his teachers more than his own parents.
His decisions about higher learning and knowledge had dramatic effects on the outcome of his life and family relations. Along the endless path of his education, his definition of success can be defined as more important than “the loss” of the bond he had with his family. Rodriguez defines himself as not just being a “scholarship boy,” but a successful one. “l was always unconfined. Exhilarated by my progress” (516). Seen by some as driven, appreciative however unoriginal, and frankly a kiss ass, Rodriguez began to struggle to connect with his parents. And there is time enough, and silence, to think about ideas (big ideas) never considered at home by his parents” (517). Unlike most people as a child, Richard was unable to express his happiness about his academic success. This would affect anybody in a fashion that they would become uncomfortable with their own home surroundings. Coming home from school he would feel as though he could not talk to his family about things he had learned for fear they would not understand or simply be uninterested.
His parents’ lack of education contributed greatly to his distancing from family. Therefore he took his academics to an extreme pushing his family away. Ironically, Rodriguez understands Hostages “scholarship boy” as someone who must move between environments, his home and the classroom, which are at cultural extremes, opposed” (517). During his childhood and early adult life he admits to being unable to do this. Due to this, Rodriguez was only successful in one part of the “scholarship boy” definition, but was able to make the most of his opportunities.
It was not until he was in his twenty’s that he finally stated, ” A primary reason for my success in the classroom was that I couldn’t forget that schooling was changing me and separating me from the life I enjoyed before coming a student” (516). Rodriguez appreciated the connection he shared with his parents before becoming engulfed by the door of knowledge his teachers opened for him. The instant they opened the door, Rodriguez decided his teachers could make him an educated man, not his parents. L wanted to be like my teachers, to possess their knowledge, to assume their authority, their confidence, even to assume a teacher’s persona” (522). Contrary to what is true for most people, Rodriguez found comfort in books and knowledge rather than in his own family and home life. Regrettably, this caused him to believe that the bond with books was stronger than that of blood. The “loss” often mentioned throughout the book pertains to the loss of his family due to his education and SUccess.
His pursuit of a higher education being an important aspect of his life, he was forced to sacrifice his home life. It was not until he came home from England when he was much older, that he realized this loss: I came home. After the year in England. I spent three summer months living with my mother and father, relieved by how easy it was to be home. It no longer seemed very important to me that we had little to say. I felt easy sitting and waiting and walking with them.
I watched them, nevertheless, looking for evidence of those elastic, sturdy strands that bind generations in a web of inheritance. I thought as I watched my mother one night: of course a friend had been right when she told me that I gestured and laughed just like my mother. Another time I saw for myself: my father’s eyes were much like my own, constantly watchful. But after the early relief, this return came suspicion, aging until I realized that had not neatly sidestepped the impact of schooling.
My desire to do so was precisely the measure of how much I remained an academic (531-532). However, when Rodriguez realized this loss he was not unhappy. In fact, he does not regret his decisions at all; and if he had the chance he would not go back and relive his life differently. He expresses that he is content with his life and the decisions made to get it to that. He yearns for the placement and belonging he once felt with his family; however he is relieved and happy that this appended, because he realized that the loss of the connection with his parents was inevitable.
To Rodriguez his success, which is “unromantic and plain” (528), will always be greater that the loss he felt. He was a respectful and appreciative student, but due to the lack of their education, he showed no respect toward his parents. He was also unoriginal and high strung. “He does not forget that the classroom is responsible for making him. He relies on his teacher, depends on all that he hears in the classroom and reads in his books” (529).