The Escapism of Richard Rodriguez

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From the quote, “I committed a sin of betrayal of learning English” (p.22), feels like it isn’t a betrayal at all, but from the perspective of Rodriguez, and from the commodity that he is currently going through in this essay, it certainly feels like the case. Rodriguez does not appreciate himself in the sense of learning both languages, which to me is pretty odd. According to a novel I am currently reading for another class, Wide Sargasso Sea, the protagonist Antoinette, after going through the tough trial and tribulations of losing her family and her sanity, there is a quote that I can see that could be in relation towards the complexity that Rodriguez is going through, which says in part, “there are two deaths: the real one and the one people know about.” I think that this is reluctantly what Rodriguez believes as well. 

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He does not want to be himself when people begin to ask him whether or not he is really Richard Rodriguez. So, from him saying that a sin of betrayal is learning English can probably signify that it was something that he regretted doing. I never told myself that learning Spanish was something I regretted. I found it odd from that quote that he would “regret” learning another language. This is where I would believe the “two death” quote would come into play. Rodriguez would say that he does not know himself because his past self was regulated to being disconnected. It feels as though trying to escape from his past has regulated Rodriguez into someone invisible. T

he cultural ties that are produced within the aspect of individuality makes certain that what he has accomplished can show respect towards the language upon which he would like to dominate. It is better that “the children who use their family language in school will retain a sense of individuality--their ethnic heritage and their cultural ties” (p.25). If they feel like they are remotely obligated to use another language in order to triumph, it would be as though they are suffering a death that people do know about, but not many are willing to fix it.The escapism that Rodriguez shows, and one that I do agree with is the relationship that he has with his grandmother, and how, by only complying with the respectable public identity, makes his grandmother a respectable portion of his life. 

He says that “Poetry (which goes hand in hand with knowledge), reminds me of the possibility of escaping public words, the possibility that awaits me in meeting the intimate” (p.28). Using words to escape is a pretty interesting tier for Rodriguez to consider. I never heard of the idea of using “words to escape” in the sense of trying to decipher the intimacy of both English and Spanish. I would assume that, since he has so much respect for his grandmother, the title of the chapter, “Aria” would be his grandmother’s name. The final portion of the chapter, or essay, draws from her love of poetry, which Rodriguez uses to describe the intimacy of both languages. A quote which says the following:”no way to stand in the crowd, uttering one’s family language,” (p.30) would tell of the invisibleness one would appear to present when dealing with the intimacy of language. 

Of course Rodriguez does not want to show how much his grandmother means to him for the reader to find out. Maybe it was something that is present of the art of loving his grandmother that we would not understand. For Richard, it would be his greatest form of art; to see his grandmother be his inspiration and to help him overcome his shyness through the perseverance of language. His identity from private is now turn public after the death of his grandmother.   

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