In his essay Richard Rodriguez narrates a particular event in his life using specific details throughout his writing to present the complications present in his family. He illustrates how when things begin to change from generation to generation a once united family can grow farther apart to the point of becoming detached, uncomfortable, professional and distant. Just as they grew wealthier their culture was lost and Rodriguez manifests this culture through one particular event: Christmas. Rodriguez’s mother expected her children to become professionals and grow wealthy.
She related such richness to gifts and presents saying that “you’ll have lots of money to buy me presents. ” However, it is always different when professionalism takes over to become the basis of relationship in a family. Rodriguez uses descriptions and images such as “her feet are wreathed with gifts” and “everyone seems very tired” as a way of expressing his belief that his family has grown boring, that they have become too much of professionals to even spend Christmas joyfully with their family, like they used to before.
He uses words such as “tired” and “uncomfortably warm” to indicate that either the temperature is too high or that their professionalism makes them uneasy when being in a sharing, caring, love situation. He gets back to the idea of change over time. How even Christmas, a holiday that has been celebrated since hundred of years ago, has changed to them from one generation to the next. For example, he describes his mother as being filled with presents but also seeming, in his eyes, “very small” and “worried” as if presents weren’t enough for her.
As if she was melancholic about those past Christmas they have celebrated in such a personal and warm way, instead of the obligation that it now has become. Rodriguez uses such descriptions to present his family as distant, professional and impersonal. Throughout the story Rodriguez uses specific details and words that complement the fact that his professional family creates an uncomfortable atmosphere. He indicates that his mother’s feet are “wreathed with gift”, meaning that it has all become too much.
He also describes that “By the time the last gift is unwrapped, everyone seems very tired” to show how materialized and Americanized Christmas has become in his family. He also illustrates how when his mother is “looking into the dark where expensive foreign cars idle sharply” she looks sad and small and worried. Here the word “sharply” indicates how those cars, which metaphorically represent how foreign and distant her own children has become after living such expensive lives, are so penetrating and piercing for her.
Once again, Rodriguez makes the distinction about how his family has changed from one generation to the next. How his parents used to dream of having wealth and now that their kids are wealthy they look at them hopelessly for they have not only dreamt the American Dream, as they did, but how they are actually living a dream that had seemed so far off for them. Rodriguez’s narrative structure serve as a way of describing a particular event through his own eyes in a way that we can actually feel and see the things how he does.
He starts his narration with his mother’s prediction, or more like hope, for their wealthy future. He then continues to narrate a particular occasion in the future – Christmas. This structure serves as a tool to compare what was before and what was after. How before her mother desired many presents for her children, as in success and triumph and how the many presents today portray the fact that his family is composed of successful people.
However, he counteracts this by describing how far from his parents they have become by describing her mother’s worry and her father’s lack of communication with his sons and daughters all night. Through this he clearly states how his family is composed of successful people, but how his family relationships have not succeeded. Instead, they’re distant, and professional. They are now worried about material things, they are living the American Dream while to their parents the American Dream has become more like an American Nightmare.