Aria: A Memoir of a Bilingual Childhood

In his personal essay, Richard Rodriguez uses his life, his experiences to illustrate why he thinks bilingual education is bad policy. The memories, the vignettes, the stories he tells create a convincing emotional argument for his perspective.

However, his writing style also employs classic essay strategies that help ground the reader in the essay.

Quote an introduction sentence, a transition sentence, or double-spaced section. Explain how Rodriguez is grounding the reader through one of those techniques.

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3 Responses to Aria: A Memoir of a Bilingual Childhood

  1. Trudi says:

    “When I went up to look at my grandmother, I saw her through the haze of a veil draped over the open lid of the casket. Her face looked calm-but distant and unyeilding to love. It was not the face I remembered seeing most often. It was the face she made in public when the clerk at Safeway asked her some question and I would need to respond. It was her public face that the mortician had designed with his dubious art.”

    There are many lines in this piece that touched me and that I can quote, but for some reason the ending of this esaay hit an emotional cord for me. Throughout this story, Richard is convincing the reader, pretty well I might add, that bilingual education takes the intimacy away from a particular culture; in his case, Mexican culture. When those languages and sounds of endearment are lost in a family/relationship, through translation, a piece of their imtimate language and conversation is lost along the way as well. The narrator posed a conflict through personal experience and descriptive details that draws the reader in, allowing the his audience to sit in on a certain area or memory of his life. The quoted paragraph above brings his point home as he describes the nondescript look the mortician as seemed to capture on his deceased grandmother’s face. A face he was only familiar with in public places where itimacy was lost and the language barrior was impersonal and misunderstood.

  2. Charles says:

    I like how Rodriguez used the Spanish language to signify family. I also felt that he did a great job in describing the sounds of the language. He said that Spanish had a “soft” tone and English was “harsh”. I felt that Spanish was what kept them closer as a family. The language was what they knew, it was a comfort level for them. Also, it’s fascinating to me how he separates the private “Spanish” life and the much more public “English” life. I felt that way he described by lingual meant that, he ha and his family had to pretend when they were outside. I understood his feelings for rejecting the idea of learning in a persons own language because that does in a way slow the learning process. It is very interesting the mind set of he and his family, it is more interesting however how the family’s behavior is reactionary to the public view of them.

  3. azizah k. says:

    I agree with Rodriguez’s points about why it is better for children to be taught in the “public” language.
    I liked that he was able to preserve his intimate relationships even through language barriers.

    I thought the distinction he made between sounds and words was also interesting.

    Although, in the beginning he seemed to attribute his loss of intimacy with his family to learning a new language, i felt this was part of his growing up. Children at some point will see the vulnerability and faults of their parents and I think this happens one way or another. He just experienced it through his parents’ struggle to communicate with the outside world.

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