Not Breaking Away from Authority
A writer can only become effective if he decides to value change and thus abandon the conventions of daily life and tradition itself. This can only happen too if there have been events in his or her life that triggered the decision to break free from what is traditional. Based on “The Achievement of Desire,” Richard Rodriguez has not broken the hold of tradition over him, and that he has not become his own authority because he has remained obedient to all those whom he had considered symbols of authority like his parents, his teachers and the society. There are a number of reasons why Rodriguez has not left tradition. Firstly, there has not been any event in his life, particularly in his school life, that caused him any great distress. Moreover, there was nothing so radical in his life that it had to cause a great upheaval in him. He may have experienced some temporary mental setbacks when he was young and when he had his first classroom experience but it was not enough to stir something great in him. For example, Rodriguez said, “A primary reason for my success in the classroom was that I couldn’t forget that schooling was changing me and separating me from the life I enjoyed before becoming a student” (Rodriguez 196). This means that Rodriguez himself was able to experience some sort of distress from the pressures of having to change his lifestyle when he started going to school. However, this is still a far cry from what Adrienne Rich describes as “confusing, disorienting, and painful” (Rich 18). One can only realize that he has departed from tradition when he has reached this level of distress. It may have been true to Rodriguez that “good schooling requires that any student alter early childhood habits” (Rodriguez 197). Nevertheless, such pressure was not enough for him to abandon the tradition of education and not enough to stimulate his imagination to do such a thing. Moreover, although it is a fact that the boy Rodriguez “wants to continue as part of the family circle, the balance is lost [because] the boy needs to spend more and more time studying,” this loss of balance is not the same as the pressure and difficulty that other people may have experienced before they decided to leave tradition (Rodriguez 197). In fact, in the case of Rodriguez, he says, “Not until my last months as a graduate student, nearly thirty years old, was it possible for me to think much about the reasons for my academic success” (Rodriguez 196). This means that he even finished education and thus lived his life in the tradition of the academe before he realized the flaws of the educational system or what wrong the educational system has done for him. Thus, because of his adherence to tradition – which is mainly demonstrated by his love for traditional classroom education – he has never thought of abandoning tradition itself. Secondly, Rodriguez himself has remained obedient to tradition and used little of his imagination. Education has in fact transformed Rodriguez into something he himself disliked. He said, “The scholarship boy is a very bad student. He is the great mimic…not a thinker, the very last person who ever feels obliged to have an opinion of his own [and he is] the worst student, a dummy mouthing the opinions of others” (Rodriguez 203). As a student, therefore, Rodriguez realized that traditional education has not been doing him well, and this is even an understatement because he could see that it was turning him into a robot, which he conveniently called “a great mimic.” Nevertheless, he pursued his studies, perhaps because he was a child then and he had no choice but to study. However, he did not mention in “Achievement of Desire” even just one instance that he entertained any negative thought about traditional education. In fact, he supported it for he even said, “Faithfully, I wrote down all that [my best teachers in college] said. I memorized...
Cited: Rich, AdrienneHemeHemRich, Adrienne. "When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision." College English 34:3 (1972): 18-30. Print.
Rodriguez, Richard. "The Achievement of Desire." Bartholomae, David and Anthony Petrosky. Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers. 9th ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin 's, 2010. 194-206.
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