Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez

A Scholarship Boy's Nostalgia

In his essay “The Achievement of Desire,” Richard Rodriguez acts as both a writer and reader in response to a book written by Richard Hoggart entitled The Uses of Literacy. Rodriguez discovers a parallel between his own life and the life of what Hoggart coins as a “scholarship boy.” A scholarship boy is defined as a child from a working-class family who feels as if he “cannot afford to admire his parents…[so] he concentrates on the benefits that education will bestow on him.” (566). For Rodriguez, the discovery and reading of the definition prompts him to gain the courage to realize and admit that his academic success is due to his early, emotional separation from both his family and his culture.

Discovering Hoggart’s book was an epic moment in Rodriguez’s life. His nostalgic experience is expressed when he writes, “For the first time I realized that there were other students like me, and so I was able to frame the meaning of my academic success, its consequent price- the loss.” (564). Rodriguez’s academic success began when the “deepest love” he had for his parents turned into “embarrassment for their lack of education.” (566)....

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