Richard Rodriguez, "The Achievement of Desire": Analysis

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Stephanie Li
Professor Pines
Rhetoric 101
8 October 2011
Word Count: 1394
Rodriguez’s Transformation: Developing a “Sociological Imagination”
In his essay, “The Achievement of Desire,” Richard Rodriguez informs readers that he was a scholarship boy throughout his educational career. He uses his own personal experiences, as well as Richard Hoggart’s definition of the “scholarship boy,” to describe himself as someone who constantly struggles with balancing his life between family and education, and ends up on the side of education. In recognizing himself as a “scholarship boy,” he shows that he has gained what sociologist C. Wright Mills terms the “sociological imagination,” which “enables its possessor to understand the larger historical scene in terms of its meaning for the inner life and the external career of a variety of individuals” (Mills 8). Rodriguez’s writing style switches back and forth, between his biography, which is mainly focused on himself, and the definition of the “scholarship boy,” based on Hoggart’s definition. We as readers are easily able to see that Rodriguez is not the only person who has struggled with loss, confusion, loneliness, and nostalgia, but is actually just one boy in a sea of many “scholarship boys.”

During his last year as a graduate student, Rodriguez traveled to London, and was with many other scholars. When he finally feels as if he has found a community that he belongs to, he realizes that he has joined a “lonely community” (530), filled with “the faces of young men and women worn by long study” (530). This is when Rodriguez has an epiphany, or when he gains a “sociological imagination.” Mills tells us that an individual has developed a “sociological imagination” when he is able to “understand his own experience and gauge his own fate by locating himself within his period, that he can know his own chances in life by becoming aware of those of all individuals in his circumstances” (Mills 9). Rodriguez shows readers...
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