Days of Obligation: an Argument with My Mexican Father

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March 10, 2011
ENG 351

“Days of Obligation: An Argument with My Mexican Father” Richard Rodriguez

This book is written in a quick, quick witted, volatile changeable style. Rodriguez tries to expel of the tensions in his life and life in America. He parallels or relates the views of young and old, catholic and protestant, communalism and individualism, cynicism and optimism and the past and future in his own life. When Rodriguez goes to Mexico, he feels unwelcome. To me, he seems to feel that he is overeducated and superior to his peers in Mexico. A lot of Rodriguez’s opinions have come from his father’s view of the world. His father viewed it as a sad place, whereas when Richard was young, he viewed it as a fiesta. However, through adulthood, Rodriguez’s opinions of the world began to parallel his father’s. He plays numerous variations on the contrasts he derives from an argument he once had with his father: “Life is harder then you think, boy.” Rodriguez responds to his father, “You’re thinking of Mexico, Papa. You’ll see.” Rodriguez is extremely cynical, he feels inclined to question everyone’s motives about every decision they make. For example, on page 27, when talking about the Gay Freedom parade, Rodriguez states “they marched, east to west, following the mythic American path to optimism.” Meaning they are following a path that isn’t anything in Rodriguez’s eyes. It is hopefulness that Rodriguez doesn’t see at all. Additionally, Rodriguez states, “I have never looked for utopia on a map. My compass takes its cardinal point from tragedy” (pg 29). This again proves that Rodriguez chooses to be negative and look at everything from a cynical, unfortunate standpoint.

The above being said, I also believe Rodriguez fails to pursue a consistent argument. He has so many different viewpoints and issues. While he does stick with the reoccurring themes in the novel such as AIDS, barbarism vs. civilization and religion, all of them are...
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