The Achievement of Desire – Richard Rodriguez

                If there’s one thing I’ve learned from any cheesy television show, I learned on The Secret Life of the American Teenager that, “It’s all about acceptance – loving the imperfect makes us accept and love our own imperfections”. This quality, loving people for their imperfections, is what I feel Richard Rodriguez lacks. His eyes are closed to everything around him except one thing: his education.

                Rodriguez is lucky to come from a family where the work ethic is strong and push for knowledge is enforced. His parent’s do all that they can to send him to a great school, taught by nuns, in order to ensure that he will be more than another average person in the world. His mother, ever encouraging him to pursue education, loves how brilliant he is. From an early age everyone knew Rodriguez was very smart. Having only a small amount of schooling, his mother didn’t want to lose touch with her children as they became better in school and better at speaking English. She’d often ask Rodriguez, “what do you see in your books?” – a simple yet complex question. He may have replied in a variety of bored, enthusiastic, or pleasant answers, but instead he usually chose to ignore her. He was too young and ignorant to recognize that she was doing all she could to be a good mother and help her children be raised in America. While in grade school Rodriguez proudly announced that his teacher had told him he was beginning to lose all trace of a Spanish accent. His family was so shocked! I feel that this was the very first sign of how hard he was working to achieve the same level of education as his peers – even if it meant sacrificing his family and heritage. But is there such a need for the division of education and home life?

                The biggest mistake I think he made was trying to separate his life into sections. What he needed to learn is that you can have whatever you want, so long as you are willing to struggle for it. Things in life don’t come easy. I’m not sure how he never learned this – I mean, he was reading tons of books, going to school, was taught by nuns… He was obviously wasn’t focused one hundred percent of the time. I feel like this is one of those basic life lessons that is naturally learned. Things in life don’t come easy, but they do come to those who work hard.

                At the same time, I agree with how he handled things. Being young it’s difficult to connect with parents at times. Having a barrier such as language and level of education could be scary and so difficult it’s hard to even comprehend. Steve Jobs once said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life, don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important – have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” So was the divide necessary? No. Was it a bad choice? No. In life we have many choices. Some are good, some are better, and some are the best. I don’t think people often make BAD choices they just don’t make the BEST choices possible.

                “Whatever comes our way, whatever battle we have raging inside us, we always have a choice. It is the choices that make us who we are and we can always choose to do what is right” – wise words, stated by Peter Parker (A.K.A. Spiderman). Richard Rodriguez chose to be a ‘scholarship boy’. He could have chosen to be a scholarship boy who appreciated his parents, who enjoyed speaking Spanish in the home, who made time for family downtime. Instead, he became “that scholarship boy who must move between environments, his home and the classroom, which are at cultural extremes, opposed” (page 599). He goes on in the next few pages to say that “scholarship boy: good student, troubled son”, and that he “… intended to hurt my mother and father”. He was aware of his actions. He was aware of the situation. He was aware that he had control over whether or not he was happy at home. But for whatever reason, someone had stuck the idea in his head that his school life could not mix with his home life.

                Personally, I don’t care just how smart he is. I think he’s a horrible person. While it may be easy to argue whether or not he made a good choice, you’ll always be able to argue that he could have made a better one. Honestly – what kind of person wants to live life without their family by their side? His parents were so proud of him! Which he promptly follows with “never betraying my sense of irony: I was not proud of my mother and father. I was embarrassed by their lack of education”. This is ridiculous! I feel like I’m stuck watching a dramatic soap opera, screaming at the television for the actors to do as I say, knowing my attempts are hopeless because they cannot hear me. If it weren’t for his parents, he wouldn’t even have the education that he does. How can he dismiss all of their work and sacrifice as if it were his God-given right for them to put their lives aside and focus on his? How did he become so selfish?

By the end of the essay Rodriguez himself even says that his departure to college is what made this family-school life separation apparent. This only solidifies what I stated earlier – he knew what kind of choices he was making. He wanted to hurt his family; he was consciously doing so. I just can’t figure out why. It’d have been so easy for him to simply acquire more patience; to act tender heartedly like his mother. If he had put the same kind of loving effort into his family relationship as he put passion into his studies, his childhood could have been wildly different.


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