The Achievement of Desire Essay
The Achievement of Desire In his writing, Richard Rodriguez describes himself as a “scholarship boy”, a label he read about in Hoggart’s book, The Uses of Literacy. His description of himself and Hoggart’s description of a scholarship boy do seem to align with each other in various ways, which Rodriguez points out in his essay. He gives block quotes from Hoggart’s book and then relates those quotes to his own life to show the reader just how much the two descriptions align with each other.
Rodriguez uses Hoggart’s book to describe his life, it wasn’t until he came across that book that he knew what category of student he fell under.
Rodriguez mentions his separation from his family and then gives readers a quote saying “He has to be more and more alone, if he is going to “get on. ” He will have probably unconsciously, to oppose the ethos of the hearth, the intense gregariousness of the working-class family group.
” (517) This fits in perfectly with Rodriguez’s life. He was embarrassed of his parents and tried to distance himself from his family as much as possible. He would read outside by himself whenever his family had guests over, he would always be found reading in his room or even in closets when everyone else was in the living room together.
It may be happening unconsciously, those may not have been his intentions but he is clearly distancing himself from his family so as to try and succeed at school. He would ignore his parent’s pleas to save power and do his work in the living room so that he could have peace and quiet by himself in his room. Another one of the quotes Rodriguez incorporates into his writing says, “The scholarship boy tends to over-stress the importance of examinations, of the piling up of knowledge and of received opinions… He becomes an expert imbiber and doler-out; his competence will vary, but will rarely be accompanied by genuine enthusiasms. (528-529) Rodriguez relates this quote to when he talks about how he never formed his own opinions, he just repeated the opinions of others. He becomes really skilled at repeating information but he cannot form his own ideas. This is where he says that Hoggart’s account is “more accurate than fair”. Rodriguez may mean that Hoggart is being truthful but harsh in his description. Although it seems like Rodriguez is harsher on the “scholarship boy”, he calls him “a very bad student.
He is the great mimic; a collector of thoughts, not a thinker;” (529) Both of their descriptions are similar and are making the same point, that the scholarship boy cannot think for himself, he can only repeat information he’s been presented with. Rodriguez mentions how when he was in class and answering a question he would just be drawing on the ideas of others to answer those questions. Teachers loved him for being able to relate other’s ideas to his essays but this may only have perpetuated that. Both Hoggart and Rodriguez describe the scholarship boy as only being able to repeat thoughts and not being able to come up with any of his own.
Rodriguez uses Hoggart’s book to describe himself and what category of student he falls under. He uses quotes from The Uses of Literacy and then relates those quotes to his own life. This shows just how much his life aligns with the description of a scholarship boy. It no longer is appropriate to call Rodriguez a scholarship boy because he is no longer a student, he writes his own works and so that must mean he is finally able to form his own thoughts, something a scholarship boy does not have the ability to do.