Richard Rodriguez

Growing up, people realize that around the time of reaching a mature state, education has affected their personal family life in one way or the other. With that being said, in his essay, “The Achievement of Desire”, Richard Rodriguez headed towards a path where he was unconsciously distancing himself from his family and becoming much more independent than he had expected. Rodriguez gives the reader a sentimental idea of the two contrary lives he had growing up, the life he had as a child, and the life he has as an educated man. He continued believing in his aspiration of how benefits of education can remarkably outweigh the past struggles of both his family and himself. Like Rodriguez, I also, in the past, found some form of solitude in my family life, and was able to partially see myself in his story of desirable triumph. As years passed along, Rodriguez noticed that he was being driven further and further apart from his parents.

This awkward gap between Rodriguez and his family was something that he couldn’t help, mainly because family life and home life were two entities he simply could not keep in balance. “He cannot afford to admire his parents. (How could he and still pursue such a contrary life?)”(par.13), “…the scholarship boy must move between environments, his home and the classroom, which are at cultural extremes, opposed (par. 5)”, says Richard Hoggart, in his book, “The Uses of Literacy”, where Rodriguez found many similarities with the “scholarship boy”. Rodriguez found himself in an environment he grew entirely fond of, knowing that his parents had “a way of life not only different but starkly opposed to that of the classroom” (par.9). Due to these differences, as he was allowing educational authorities to mold him deeply and completely, his growing admiration towards education lead to a diverse gap and alienation that overcame his relationship with his family. In my perspective, Rodriguez’s biggest motivation was the thought of how education would bring him better opportunities that were never given to his parents.

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I believe he’s been introduced to an intellectual world where he longs to break away from his parent’s limitations. He wanted to hide his embarrassment of his own parents because of their lack of education, where on the contrary, he idolized his teachers; he wanted to possess their knowledge, “even to assume a teacher’s persona”. Not only did he want to be a teacher in the future, but he also wanted his own parents to be more like his teachers, which lead to what Hoggart says in paragraph 13 “the kind of allegiance the young student might have given his mother and father only days earlier, he transfers to the teacher, the new figure of authority”. His isolation brought him determined strength to succeed but with the cost of separating him from the way of his early life. Rodriguez repetitively mentioned “silence”, “voicelessness” and “lack of communication” towards his family as it contributed to his feelings of seeking an academic and intellectual life. Education is something that involves continuous self-motivation especially in times of personal adversity, like for Rodriguez when he was alone in a time when people normally need the most mental support from their parents.

Similarly, I’ve experienced the same turn of events growing up in a country where the American culture was not too familiar to my parents. My father, an immigrant, always tried to reach out to his children but because of the generation gap, he never had the chance to develop a bond between himself and his children. Born and raised in Bangladesh, a developing country, my father found it difficult to communicate in English as he never had the chance to fluently learn the language. Simultaneously, I never had the chance to learn the sole fluent language my father knew, Bengali, and for this reason, as a child, I never had that “intimate conversation” with my father. I too mentioned only “small, obvious things” and “tried to make our conversation seem like more than an interview”, but because there was really nothing else to talk about with my father, I wasn’t able to develop a bond or that father-daughter connection with him that families normally have. As school took up most of my time, my father and I never really had the time to have a heart to heart conversation to catch up on what’s been going on with each other’s lives.

Fortunately, my story is not as melancholic as Rodriguez’s because my father put an effort into getting used to the ways and culture of America where he tried to keep at least some form of relationship with me. Even though we speak in our own language (he speaking in Bengali and I in English) when communicating with each other, my father found a way not to alienate himself from his children. As for Rodriguez, it’s quite a depressing story, where he had that passionate relationship with his mother once in the past which was eventually overshadowed by “silence”. During the pinnacle of his bittersweet life, Rodriguez eventually realized that he had sacrificed one of the biggest things in life to do what is best for himself, his family.

Being from a different culture caused a definite strain on the family as Rodriguez was trying to keep in touch with his own culture while being immersed in another that’s so different. With each passing day he relied more on his professors and thought less about what was going on at home. He found hope behind every subject and every new piece of knowledge. He “began imitating their accents, using their diction, trusting their every direction” and with this amount of reliance, he completely cut himself off from his family. Likewise, being cut off from my father have affected me mentally in the past because it just pained me knowing that even though I have a father that lived with me, silence had overcome us but like Rodriguez, I find hope for living a better future my parents wished for.

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