McCourt\’s Expository Writing Blog

The Achievement of Desire by: Richard Rodriguez

Posted in Uncategorized by mccourt on October 26, 2006

Richard Rodrieguez lives in two different worlds.  We hear of his dual worlds his home, and his place of education. At school, we hear of Rodriguez’s drive to succeed and desire to become educated like his teachers. Throughout his education all the way through undergrad and graduate school Richard speaks of his desire to be just like his teachers. He wants to speak like them, and know exactly what they know and feel. He does what they do. He is berated with the idea from a young age that reading is the road to success. Even at a young age with the nuns he reads posters saying things like: “OPEN THE DOORS OF YOUR MIND WITH BOOKS”, “READ TO LEARN”, “CONSIDER BOOKS YOUR BEST FRIENDS”. He is told and hit with the idea to learn is to read and visa versa. That is why reading becomes so important to him. When he was at school or at home all he wanted to do was read and gain as much “knowledge” as he could. He would read books even if he didn’t understand the concepts and meanings of the pieces he was placing his interest in. He tells us of his frequent need to get the dictionary to discover the meanings of a number of words he did not know.

At home however, we hear of an entirely different word. A primarily spanish speaking word. We hear of his parents past and how they had had so much hope to become educated themselves, but how for whatever reason they did not get the opportunities or could not do that. Richard speaks continually of how his relationship with his parents and family deteriorates as he becomes  more educated and extends himself further through his schooling. His mother was quick to encourage him, perhaps that is because she went the furtherest with her education. Which unfortunately wasn’t far enough when it came to her typing job. Where she accidentally used the wrong gorilla and was placed back down the totem pole. His father was a manual labor and had given up on education long ago. At one point in his life he had wanted to become and engineer, but had not been given the opportunity. So in the end he had become the family supportered. He worked his tail off to send his children to school. He would have to be remind by his wife to congratulate their children on their achievements. However when it mattered his father took the time. Saving Richard’s high school achievements from possible distruction, disregard and disappearance. 

For Richard Rodriguez there was a lack of respect for his apparently uneducated parents. He felt that because they could not fluently and unaccently speak English they were less then his teachers. He felt the need to protect them, especially when his teacher seemed to be speaking down to his parents during one particular meeting. Even when his parents tried to understand where he was coming from he would not allow them in.

Luckily eventually the realization came that he needed or rather missed his family and their cultural differences from the society of academia. When Richard Rodriguez saw what was in him in other people, he became disgusted with himself and his personality and lack of familial relationship.  

“[the scholarship boy] sees strewn around, and reads regularly himself, magazines which are never mentioned at school, which seem not to belong to the world to which the school introduces him;at school he hears about and reads books never mentioned at home. When he brings those books into the house they do not take their place with other books which the family are reading, for often there are none or almost none; his books look, rather, like strange tools.” 

I found this particular quote to be particularly interesting. I found it to be so because I could sort of relate to it. I was commonly found reading rather then doing work and things like that. I would be berated by teachers for reading my own books rather then the required reading for the class. If you were to ask anyone that was in my high school about me in the majority of high school I was the kid that read during class rather then paying attention. They would even have the audacity to take my book away, when they seemed to completely ignore the kids throwing things and doing other classes homework in their class. Kids playing games or sending text messages on their cell phones were even ignored. I could not believe this. How was it far to punish someone whose actually doing something that is related to educational acts, and not the person doing something purely social and or for themselves.


20 Responses to 'The Achievement of Desire by: Richard Rodriguez'

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  1. Jennifer said,

    You raise some tough and important questions about how education should happen. Is education something that should happen in our own private moments, removed from the rest of the class or community? Or is education also a shared experience driven by the exchange of ideas and knowledge? Rodriguez also raises similar questions in his text–as he points out, he, like you, had the tendency to isolate himself in pursuit of his education.

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