Essay on Rodriguez's "Hunger of Memory"

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Wendy-Marie Aylward
AP English Lang.
Ms. Jones
November 19, 2012

Loss of family, whether a physical or emotional disconnect, can have a profound effect on a person, which shows itself even in the smallest detail. In his book Hunger of Memory, Rodriguez relives this loss in a passage describing Christmas in his family. He reveals his sadness and even guilt, along with a strong sense of irony, through his selection of detail and word choice to show the stark contrast between then and now, and the divide that exists within his family.

The passage starts out with a tone of easy humor, which then changes into a heavy sense of obligation and irony. An easy, carefree relationship is quickly established through the mother’s words, which hold such pride and hope for her children, coupled with humorous descriptions such as the “blue wig” on her head, or a coat so large “you’ll only be able to see [her] eyes”. This lift in emotions only serves to accentuate the sudden weight that is attached to Rodriguez’ words in the following paragraphs. Words like “tired”, “uncomfortably warm” and “listless”, which, when coupled with a focus on material value in the second paragraph, evoke a sense of obligation instead of joy. This change in tone also serves to show the irony of the situation, for even though the predictions proudly made by the mother had come true, they now carry none of the initial joy they had in the past. These descriptions, when contrasted with the opening paragraph, work to reveal the lost relationship, a change from the carefree past to the present.

Rodriguez paints for the readers a dreary present, one in which there is a great divide and disconnect that exists between each member of his family, colored by a sense of guilt, shown through selection of detail, narrative structure, and punctuation. The divide between the parents and their children becomes most apparent when the children rush to leave in their “expensive foreign cars”, the sister in her...
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