Richard

Rodriguez

Richard Rodriguez wrote in his essay, Aria: A Memoir of a Bilingual Childhood,
about the struggles he faced growing up as a bilingual Hispanic in American
society. Throughout his essay, Rodriguez discussed such topics as assimilation
and heritage. He goes into depth about the pros and the cons of being forced to
assimilate to the American culture. Growing up Hispanic in America was a
struggle for Richard Rodriguez. This was due to the fact that he was a

Spanish-speaking boy living in an English-speaking society, and he felt like he
was different than the other children. Rodriguez attended a Roman Catholic
school where many of his classmates were the children of high-class lawyers and
doctors. He felt out of place because he was a child of two immigrant,
working-class parents. Assimilating to the American culture helped Richard feel
more at ease among the other American students. In school, Richard spoke

English, but as soon as he got home, Spanish was the language of choice. This
had a positive and negative effect on him. By speaking Spanish, it helped

Rodriguez preserve his own culture, but as a disadvantage, it yielded his
learning of English. A few times Richard heard his parents speak English, but
that was only in public. Rodriguez felt safe in his Spanish speaking home
because it was familiar to him. English seemed odd and difficult for Richard
until a few of Richardís teachers visited his house. They asked Richardís
parents to encourage the use of English, by using it more themselves. As Richard
began to hear English more and more, "the high, troubling sounds of los
gringos" became unnoticeable to him(92). Learning English helped Richard to
achieve many things. He began doing well in school, he made friends and he began
to feel more comfortable talking to people. It also had a negative effect on him
and his family. Richard stated, "I no longer knew what words to use in
addressing my parents"(93). By speaking English so much, a gap grew between

Richard and his parents. His parents mainly still spoke Spanish, and the
children spoke English. He wanted to forget about his Spanish speaking days, and
felt that his parents should also assimilate to the American culture.

Rodriguez\'s change from Spanish to English, is one of the leading factors to his
strong belief in assimilation. He feels that it is necessary to be assimilated
to the culture you live in. This is due to the fact that Rodriguez had a harder
time in life sticking with his own culture. As soon as he made the leap to the

American culture, he began having a "normal" life. Although Rodriguez
believes that assimilation is a necessary part of society, I would argue that
family traditions and backgrounds are just as important if not more than
conforming to a culture. I believe this is true because with assimilation, many
lose their family background and heritage. Although I feel it is necessary to
learn the language of the culture native to the region, I believe that people
can maintain their native culture within another. I believe that Richard

Rodriguez could have kept part of his Hispanic heritage and still become

Americanized. Rodriguez feels that assimilation is necessary and because of this
belief, he partially lost his family. He now has little contact with his
parents, because he assimilated to a society different than his parents. The
topic of assimilation is under much scrutiny today. Many Americans feel that
they have a "supreme culture" and that anyone who lives in America should
follow along with their beliefs, traditions and language. Americans have to
realize that we are all made up of different cultures, backgrounds and races. No
one culture is better than any other. Rodriguez stands strong on his opinion of
assimilation of cultures as stated in his essay. This has its pros and cons. A
pro of assimilation would be that it is quite a bit easier to live in a society
if beliefs and traditions are the same. As I stated before, a major con is that
your previous culture may be lost. Rodriguez demonstrated his point of view well
through his writing. Though I donít agree with all that he has to say, I do
believe that his argument was heard. Through his writing, Rodriguez stated not
only facts, but also real life experience. This I feel is critical in writing a
good essay, because then the writer truly knows what they are writing about. As
stated before, the main point hit on in this essay was that Rodriguez feels