Reading Response: Hunger Of Memory By Richard Rodriguez
In this reading response, I would like to emphasize two main points that drew my attention while reading the book “Hunger of Memory” by Richard Rodriguez. One of the big themes is the importance of family. Interrelated with family, identity is also very important and crucial throughout this story. Identity in oneself, in race, in class, and public/private identity. Often, the audience connects with the strong emotions revealed by the author due to the powerful diction he/she uses.
To begin, Richard starts of by dedicating the memoir to his parents in a sense of honoring them. However, the reader learns quite a small amount about them and even less about his brother and two sisters. He explains the distance growing between him and his family due to how crucial it is to be learning to be bilingual in the US. Personally, being a person that grew up learning a language at home, another at school, and one in my spare time did not cause there to be distance or make me feel isolated. Learning Spanish was made quite easily since both of my parents were born and raised in Mexico. Going to school and learning English was not difficult until I came home and couldn’t ask my parents for help because either I was learning it a different way they had learned it or simply my parents did not understand the language. In that aspect I could relate to Richard due to the lack of assistance we both had. Teaching myself Italian was not complicated since I learned it at a much older age and used apps like Duolingo and didn’t feel too pressured like Richard did since it was a priority to learn, as for mine was for fun. Rodriguez explains how his education altered his relationship with his family, particularly his parents. This all started when the school demanded that his parents to speak English at home, is something that teachers would advise my parents while my brother and I were in Pre-K and kinder, although my brother had moved from Mexico to the US by 1st grade which he could associate with having to learn another language. A scenario that majority of the hispanic bilingual speakers and their family can relate to and often happens is when Richard mentions,“He wanted to know what she had said. I started to tell him, to say—to translate her Spanish words into English. The problem was, however, that though I knew how to translate exactly what she had told me, I realized that any translation would distort the deepest meaning of her message: It had been directed only to me. This message of intimacy could never be translated because it was not in the words she had used but passed through them. So any translation would have seemed wrong; her words would have been stripped of an essential meaning.” Speaking about how he couldn’t translate what his grandma had said without distorting it.
A second point is about our and Richard’s identity. The bulk of “Complexion” is composed of various reflections Richard has about his dark skin and how it’s interpreted (by people and himself). What made me so proud to be Mexican and being dark skinned is what Rodriguez explained, “That is only to say that my complexion assumes its significance from the context of my life. My skin, in itself, means nothing. I stress the point because I know there are people who would label me “disadvantaged” because of my color. They make the same mistake I made as a boy, when I thought a disadvantaged life was circumscribed by particular occupations. … But I was not one of los pobres. What made me different from them was an attitude of mind, my imagination of myself.”. He couldn’t have said it better, if anything our Mexican culture and our mindset, is what makes us the most successful. Being doubted and pushed to a side is what gives us the motivation to prove people wrong. As he grows up, same way I did, he begins to love and interpreting the profound silence of the Mexican workers as a symbol of their lack of public identity, he learns we shouldn’t be quiet but embrace our ethnicity and culture.
Conclusively, this book broadens the experiences of a transitioning kid to the US with his family. The themes of family and identity throughout this story have taught me to sympathize to other individuals experiences. Richard is now able to share many of his life lessons from many of the things he has endured.