NOUR BAHRI EN1111 Academic Writing M. Antoniadou 29th October2012 Analysis essay of “Aria” by Richard Rodriguez (2nd draft) This essay, titled “Aria”, originally published in 2008, is an autobiographic essay of the author’s childhood, Richard Rodriguez’. In his essay, Richard is against bilingual educators, who think that children in their first years of school should be educated in their native language. According to him this education system is wrong, won’t be beneficial, therefore children should be educated in the same language as the public one.
Rodriguez’s main point is to strongly encourage children of immigrant parents to adopt English, the “public language” as their main language in order to become assimilated in the “public society” and have a better future. Ricardo describes his childhood as a child of Mexican immigrant parents studying in an English school in America, where he had problems in communicating at school because he did not know the “public language”, English.
At first, he was shy and timid at school because he was feeling uncomfortable with English, but with his parents’ and teacher’s help he “raised his hand to volunteer an answer”, from that day he “moved very far from the disadvantaged child”(288). He then started feeling as an American citizen. Although Rodriguez admits that he lost the strong intimacy at home with his parents, he emphasizes that the “loss implies the gain”(291). Rodriguez supports his argument against bilingual education by using mainly the contrast technique in order for the readers to become more sensitive to his topic and argument
Richard’s entire essay is based on the contrast between “the loss” in private and “the gain” in public. By presenting those two opposed extremes, readers become more sensitive to his argument as his essay becomes more realistic. In the part of the private loss, Ricardo faces problems at home, since he came to believe that he was an American citizen, “at least”(288). So the past refers to before Richard believes that he was an American citizen at the age of 7. Ricardo uses frequently the negation arks in order to support that they remained a loving family, but one greatly changed, “No longer so close: no longer bound”, “neither my older brother nor sister”, “Nor did I” this last in a separate sentence to accentuate his position and the negation (288). He contrasts this new situation with the one they had in the past where “after dinner each night, the family gathered”(287). Readers feel that in the past family bonds and ties were stronger and the house was full of joy and laughs, “everyone laughed”(287).
Thereby, Richard used “we” (“we played”) as for him and his family that has a stronger meaning and connotation since they where feeling closer, as a whole. But also, in the past Richard was impatient to go back home, where he could actually speak the language, now he says, “gone was the desperate, urgent, intense feeling of being at home” (288). Furthermore, after this feeling of closeness diminished, “silence” started taking place in the house as Richard explains that “as we children learned more and more English, we shared fewer and fewer words with our parents” (288).
So in the past, children were more comfortable in speaking Spanish with their parents and spoke a language, which the parents actually understand and respond with ease, the house was full of “language of home”(286). By speaking English so much, a gap between Richard and his parents grew. After this process of Americanization, “the silence at home, however, was finally more than a literal silence”(289). He uses a lot words in relation to the ear and hearing as “sounds” “listen”, “listening”, “heard” and “speaking”(289).
Furthermore, Spanish started becoming unfamiliar to him and English, which is the “public language” became his “primary language”. In the past he used to call his parents “mama and papa”, and now that English is his primary language he calls them “mother” and “father” (289). At the end of his essay Richard said that his “childhood started to end” the day he took the decision that his wants to feel like an American citizen.
Richard, most probably, associates the word childhood with his past, before he came to believe that he was an American citizen; a past where he had strong bonds with his parents, the feeling of security and other that they are his parents, Spanish united them. However, as he became less confident with his private identity, he started becoming increasingly confident of his new public identity because the belief that he belonged in public had taken hold. Richard presents in his essay the other side of the “game”, of learning English and feeling as an American citizen because as he said “the loss implies the gain”(291).
By the gain he means the gain in public, public identity. An important dramatic event occurred, it is the one that resulted in a big change in Richard’s life. And this was the day Richard raised his hand in class to volunteer an answer. This event brought him a lot forward, as he was no longer feeling as a disadvantaged child. Moreover, as Richard began to hear more and more English, “the high, troubling sounds of los gringos” became unnoticeable to him; he was “no longer an alien in gringo society”(288). Whereas before he came to believe he was an American citizen, “los gringos” had a bad connotation, full of “bitterness or distrust” (288).
Rodriguez became more confident of himself in speaking English, and he finally heard words, not just sounds. Richard insists in the difference between “sound and words” (which in the past sounds were helping him in understanding the situation) (288). He came to realize that “sound and word were tightly wedded” after his Americanization (288). He has also contrasting feelings; he was often “bemused” and always “relieved” to realize how “silent, though crowded with words” his day in public had been (288). Richard means that, since he was feeling more comfortable with English, the words were more powerful and meaningful.
Before the dramatic event, English was a “foreign language” to him, he felt like a “stranger” to it (287). Becoming more familiar with English helped Richard to achieve many things. He began doing well in school, he made friends and he was feeling more comfortable talking to people in public. Assimilating to the American culture helped Richard feel more at ease among the other American students. So we understand that the “public identity” he achieved was a great success to him (288). Finally Richard at the end of his essay, make things more clear, and the contrast is still visible.
He responds to bilingual educators, who have to distinguish between “private individuality” and “public individuality”. While “becoming assimilated into public society, such assimilation makes possible the achievement of public individuality”(290). Richard points out that “in public, by contrast, full individuality is achieved”(290). So according to him, the public gain is really important and that is why in his essay the “gain” is stressed more than the “loss”. To conclude, in his autobiographic essay, Richard successfully used the contrast technique in order to give a full image of his argument and be more convincing.
There was a deep intimacy with his family and the painful feeling of public alienation. However, as he grew up and with his Americanization, this became only the past; meaning that there were no longer good bonds in the family and in public he gained an identity and individuality. Rodriguez offers a contrasting truth: while our heritage and culture may remain forever tied to our native language, the only way we can truly become a part of our community and fit in is to dominate the current spoken language. Word count: 1280 Work Citation: Rodriguez, Richard. The Norton Reader;2008, ww Norton Company,
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