Hunger for Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez An Autobiography by Richard Rodriquez
The Power of LanguageAn Achievement of Desire • As you read the Prologue, what comes to your mind about Richard’s sense of self? • Do you sense grieving? - Anger? - Betrayal? • By whom? • What does Richard mean when he says it is not possible to use a family’s language in school? • How would this trivialize the nature of intimate life? • When Richard heard the sounds of Spanish and English, what did these sound represent (p. 13)? • Hearing his father’s struggle with English, Richard would grow nervous and lose trust in him. Why did his father’s struggle with the English language cause such distress in Richard (p. 15)? • “What I needed to learn in school was that I had the right – and the obligation – to speak the public language of los gringos” (p. 19). Was Richard referring to the English language only? • Did Richard resent his parent’s agreement to speak English at home (p. 21)? Why or why not? • What was Richard’s turning point, when he crossed the bridge, into his public life? • “ Matching the silence I started hearing in public was a new quiet at home” (p. 23). From this new perspective, why did Richard have such difficulty hearing the sounds of the world? • Unlike Henry, who resented not really belonging to the American culture, Richard relished and celebrated the day he acquired his new name. Why?
His Humble BeginningsCredo • Other than being Catholic, which requires one to always have a current of guilt running through our veins, why does Richard have quilt weighing him down (p. 28)? • Did Richard resent being called Pocho? • Why do the loud black teenagers annoy Richard? Did he secretly envy them? Why? • Richard’s grandmother always considered him her favorite, even though she called him pocho. What did this word mean to her that it didn’t mean to the others who also called Richard that name (37). • What is Richard saying to us when he admits that: “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 becoming a student” (p. 45)? • “The scholarship boy tends to make a father-figure of his form-master” (p. 49). Keeping this in mind, who were Richard’s idols and was Henry/Kwang much like Richard in this respect? • How did books play a major role in the above quote? • Why are his fellow academics bothered by his style, mannerisms, and academic jargon (p. 66)? • On page 70 the passage – “Some persons I sat beside day after day…” reminds us of Henry’s spy family. How is this similar and how is this different? • What did the teacher mean when he stated that only after reading 2000 books was one capable of having a complicated thought (p. 73)? • Did the church help bridge the gap and isolation Richard felt (p.82)? • How did the teachings of the Church differ in his public life and his private life (p. 85)? • Does your faith (whatever that may be) have that same affect on you as it did on Richard? • Why did Richard resent the new Vatican doctrine (p. 102)? • Did he relate to the college friends who called themselves agnostics (p. 104)? • What do you identify with? • How is translating credo into the English first plural, we, a metaphor for Richard’s assimilation (p. 106)? The “I” in private life to the “we” in public life. • Are you more a religious person or a modern agnostic (p. 108)? • What does he mean when he says, “If God is dead I will cry into the void” (p. 109)?