6 February 2013
Conformity & Deviance in Richard Rodriguez’s “Aria”
In the face of public society, the individual is presented with a few social norms. There are two things that a person can do in response to these norms, either succumb to their pressure by conforming to these norms or resist by deviating from them. In Richard Rodriguez’s “Aria,” Rodriguez shows how he conforms to the pressure of the American public’s social norm of learning and speaking English. By learning English, Rodriguez is able to participate more in American society, while gaining acceptance from his peers and others around him. At the same time, Rodriguez is deviating from his and his family’s own personal social norm at home of communicating in Spanish and sticking to his culture and beliefs. In the long run, this hurts his family and causes a separation and loss of communication between him, his siblings and his parents, especially his father.
Rodriguez’s conformity starts at a very young age, while at his own home. Rodriguez describes as a young child he struggled with understanding and speaking English. His struggle was noticed mainly by his teachers at school. At one point, Rodriguez’s teachers made a visit to his home to talk about this problem with his parents. Rodriguez wrote “Is it possible for you and your husband to encourage your children to practice their English when they are home” (Rodriguez 406). This suggested that his teachers wanted him and his siblings to start practicing their English at home. Of course his parents really had no choice but to conform to his teachers wishes “What would they not do for their children’s well-being? And how could they have questioned the Church’s authority which those women represented? In an instant, they agreed to give up the language that had revealed and accentuated our family’s closeness.” (Rodriguez 406).
For several years, Rodriguez’s conformity was thought to be an...