Richard Rodriguez: Aria: a Memoir of a Bilingual Childhood

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Najee Bailey
Professor Scheuermann
English 101
03/04/12
Rodriguez describes his journey of language through the influence of his grandmother, the battles of balancing both the native language and the English language and by his disagreement of “individuality”. Rodriguez designates his passage by describing the struggles he endured as a bilingual Hispanic in American society. Born as an American citizen to Mexican immigrants, Rodriguez was the child of working-class parents. He started going to a Roman Catholic School following the footsteps of his older sister and brother. However, by attending this school, he felt misplaced; his classmates were all children of high-class lawyers and doctors. Living in Sacramento, California, Rodriguez realized that his life would entirely change, for better and worse.

Rodriguez describes his grandmother as “a woman of Mexico” and her no interest of the “gringo society” (36). Throughout his early years, Rodriquez had a close relationship with his grandmother. He would take her to a Safeway and she would have him translate for her. She would mock him and call him “Pocho”, meaning “bland” or a Mexican-American who, in becoming American, has forgotten his native society. His grandmother was the type of woman who never expected a response from him. Rodriguez explained, “Language was never its source.” (36) He understood her completely; however she didn’t need him to respond to anything. She was the one who truly made him understand the “intimate utterance”, a mystery that couldn’t be solved. His grandmother would help him understand that it is not the word that makes up the meaning it’s the sounds one makes instead. Rodriguez mentions that though he could not describe the sounds of her words, he could describe the stories and memories she mentioned. It was this particular closeness and personal connection he had to her voice that made it seem as if he understood the “intimate utterance”.

Balancing between “private language”...
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