Posted: September 9th, 2022

Analysis of Rodriquez arguments.

Again, I wouldn’t have selected this text unless it has numerous fallacies and errors in logic.  You should remember that you can’t commit any fallacies in your analysis.  Of course, I noted this required book, Hunger of Memory, by Richard Rodriguez in our syllabus; you should be able to get it from our COS Barnes & Noble Visalia campus bookstore or online, but make sure if you buy it online that you opt for next-day air:  I won’t accept “I bought it online but it hasn’t arrived yet” since you’ve known about this book since the class began on August 15 when you first had access to our syllabus on our Canvas page.  You might want to check with our COS library to see if they have a circulating copy of his book (some of you already know from your orientations when your first started attending COS about the reserved textbooks students can use to either make copies of various chapters or check out for a limited number of hours).  Just remember that you have to use quotations from both the Rodriguez autobiography and from our main textbook, Logic and Contemporary Rhetoric:  The Use of Reason in Everyday Life (13th edition is the only acceptable edition–no other editions than the 13th edition of our main textbook meet this requirement) in your Rodriguez essay.  The assignment is in Module # 10.

Chapter 1:  Rodriguez’ argument concerning intimacy:

I assume you’ve realized that Rodriguez uses this argument to bolster his argument against bilingual education (but you can’t examine both of these arguments since they’re both in the same chapter).

Use your experience when considering his argument that intimacy depends on the individuals, not the language they utilize.  Imagine you’re in the COS quad and someone sits down next to you and attempts to communicate with you; however, the person doesn’t speak the same language you speak and understand.  Would you have a difficult time establishing some kind of intimacy between the two of you?  Of course:  One of you would literally have to learn the other person’s language since you can only do so much with hand gestures or hand drawings (assume you don’t have an electronic translator on your cell phone).  Consequently, you would need a lot of time to develop some kind of relationship considering the language barrier.

Rodriguez uses his relationship with his grandmother to promote his argument about intimacy:  He and she didn’t really share a common language (she spoke mostly Spanish and he used mostly English at the time), yet he says he was able to establish an intimate relationship with his grandmother.  Is his relationship with his grandmother similar to others who confront language barriers?  Was he forced to be around his grandmother?  You’re not forced to be around someone you briefly meet in the COS quad.  Hence, what’s the problem with Rodriguez using his grandmother as an example of intimacy?

Also in Chapter 1, Rodriguez argues against bilingual education (BE).  He argues that BE requires individuals to postpone the creation of a public self if a person is allowed to use his or her first, non-English language.

Consider Rodriguez’ situation during his childhood:  Does he grow up in a neighborhood with a lot of people who speak languages other than English?  He certainly doesn’t attend a public school:  he goes to a private school (Catholic schools are private schools:  parents must pay tuition to send their children to such schools).  In your experience, are private schools as diverse as public schools?  Does Rodriguez also admire his teachers to the point where he wants to be like them?  Do they speak Spanish, or do they speak English?  Does he come home one day and proudly announce that his teachers said he was losing all traces of a Spanish accent?  What does this tell you about Rodriguez’ world view concerning languages other than English?  Was Rodriguez embarrassed by his father’s inability to communicate with a teenage gas station attendant?  If Rodriguez had been raised in an area with a lot of Spanish speakers (such as the area north of “the Oval”), would he have encountered a number of students and even business people who speak Spanish?  Do you and others you know speak another language other than English?  Did you and these other bilingual people you know have any difficulties creating public selves?  Do you know of some people who are multi-lingual and can speak several languages?  Do you think it’s helpful in our global economy to speak more than one language?  What about the need to speak another language when you go to graduate school and one of the requirements is a reading and working knowledge of another language besides English?  Could Rodriguez be suppressing certain things?

Chapter 2:  Rodriguez’ argument concerning academic success:

Rodriguez claims that for one to have academic success, one often needs to sever both cultural and familial ties, especially if one’s home life is contrary to one’s academic life at school.

Again, consider your own experiences in your school years, both past and current:  Were you able to stay close to your family members as you went through your K-12 years?  What about now?  Do you feel the need to sever relations with your family or cultural background because of your desire to do well in school?

Did Rodriguez admire his parents?  Were they formally well-educated individuals like his teachers?  What happened to his mother because she misspelled a certain word in a work document?  Did his siblings also separate themselves from their family members the way Rodriguez did?  Did they have academic success even though they didn’t intentionally separate themselves from their family members?

Chapter 3:  Rodriguez’ argument concerning the Latin Mass:

Rodriguez claims that the Catholic church weakened itself when it transitioned from the Latin mass to the native-tongue mass:  He claims the emphasis used to be on God and not the parishioners during the Latin mass, but now the emphasis is on the worshippers and not God in the native-tongue mass.  Essentially, Rodriguez argues that that major change caused him to become more aligned with the Protestant faith than the Catholic faith (and Protestants are encouraged to read the Bible on their own, whereas Catholics are encouraged to abide by their Catechism teachers’ interpretations of the Bible).  Moreover, Rodriguez doesn’t like the socialization of the current native-tongue mass:  He sees it as a way of emphasizing the parishioners’ participation as opposed to the Latin mass’ emphasis on the believers as individual souls in their attempt to commune with God (the priest mainly kept his back to the worshippers during the Latin mass, whereas now the priest mainly faces and talks to the parishioners).

Do religions change over time?  I’m old enough to remember the Latin mass, but the change to the native-tongue mass didn’t make me want to become a member of another Christian faith (Catholics are Christians–to them, St. Peter was the first pope, and the current pope is considered “the rock” Christ’s church depends upon:  The pope is considered the contemporary equivalent of St. Peter).

Has your current religion changed over time?  Mine has:  at one time, popes went to war; over history, some popes had families (wives and children); at least two popes in history sanctioned abortion.  Some churches and religions (such as the Episcopalians) allow women to become priests; other churches allow their ministers to marry and have children.  Some faiths have had rather extreme changes; for example, the Mormon faith at one time wouldn’t allow Blacks to be part of their faithful and didn’t allow Blacks to enter the Momon Tabernacle in Salt Lake, Utah; now Blacks can be Mormons.  When a religion changes (even yours if you have one), does that cause many of the faithful to lose their faith or look elsewhere for another church?  And if a person does change one’s faith because of organizational/canonical changes, what does that say about one’s faith previously?

Do religions often out of necessity change over time?  When was the last time you heard of someone being stoned because of infidelity?  How common do people divorce even though they married in a church setting?  When I was a young boy, the communion wafer was soaked in the chalice with the wine, and the mass’ priest–no one else–placed it on our tongues at the foot of the altar:  No one ever was allowed to take the Eucharist in their hands as they often do now, and, frankly, I refuse to drink out of that chalice after taking the Eucharist because of my fear of other people’s communicable diseases and infections.  But, in my youth, we weren’t encouraged to take holy communion if we didn’t first go to the confessional prior to the mass; now, people routinely take holy communion in Catholic churches without previously going to the confessional.

Chapter 4:  Rodriguez’ concerns about standards of beauty as they relate to personal worth (especially in the eyes of others):

According to Rodriguez’ painful revelation, he was brought up to view his dark complexion with scorn for most of his youth:  Relatives considered such dark skin as a sign of being feo (which is Spanish for ugly).  However, when Rodriguez became a manual laborer one summer during his college years, he finally shed his negative self image.  More importantly, he realized that in certain contexts his dark complexion could be viewed as a positive by total strangers:  If he came through a hotel’s entrance, his skin color was a possible sign of affluence:  He has time to lounge in the sunlight next to a pool and darken accordingly.  However, if he came through the back door of a hotel, his complexion could be immediately interpreted as a sign of manual labor:  He could be seen as a new dishwasher or waiter.

Of all of Rodriguez’ arguments, this one might have some merit if one considers how many people adhere to societal pressures to “look” a certain way:  The large number of plastic surgeries done in this country and abroad must be at least one indicator that people want to alter their appearances.  A night of television viewing should convince almost anyone that commercials urge us to lose weight or buy certain fashions or color one’s hair or use certain makeup products or hair products or?  You get the drift.  Think of how many new musical sensations often also look youthful and fairly thin; some celebrities are famous for losing weight to better sell themselves to the public or they get their lips injected or get their noses straightened or get their breasts enlarged or get hair implants or even get their skin lightened (Michael Jackson was infamous for dramatically altering his appearance).

Do our collective standards of beauty often determine our sense of worth in society?  I know personally that I’d like to lose weight since at one time I was quite thin and in shape (thankfully, I still have a full head of hair that’s mainly dark–but notice how I said “thankfully”:  I probably wouldn’t be too happy if I were bald or if my hair was mainly white, but hair can be dyed).  When I think back to all the women I’ve been involved with romantically, I realize that very few of them would have ventured out in public if their hair styles weren’t acceptable to them or if they didn’t have makeup on or if they didn’t have just the right clothing for specific occasions.

Chapter 5:  Rodriguez’ concerns about affirmative action:

Rodriguez actually gave up the opportunity for a desirable academic position at an impressive Ivy league university because he felt guilty when a fellow graduate student claimed that he and Rodriguez had similar records, but Rodriguez had an advantage because of affirmative action:  Clearly, Rodriguez readily agrees with the Jewish student that he really doesn’t deserve such a job offer and blames affirmation action for such an opportunity.

Of course, many have false notions about what constitutes affirmative action when it comes to employment:  some naively believe that quotas exist (they haven’t existed since 1978 after the U. S. Supreme Court decision in Bakke v. UC California:  David Bakke won his case that he was passed up by the UC Davis medical school because another applicant who was Black got in even though Bakke who was white had a slightly higher GPA).  Currently, affirmative action laws are basically guidelines to encourage public employers to increase the diversity of job and college applicants:  No one is given preferential treatment based on race or ethnicity or age or gender or physical challenges, though certain federal job applicants can get extra points by being veterans.  Of course, schools can take into account your diverse backgrounds (for example, you excelled in your studies despite your family’s low income status–and the university you’re applying to might want to correct the fact that far too many of their current students come from wealthy backgrounds and privileges) when they ask you to write an essay as to why you would benefit from an education at a specific institution, but poverty isn’t the only thing that might be viewed favorably; for example, you might be the first person in your family to graduate from high school or the first one to attend a college or you’ve succeeded despite physical challenges or learning difficulties; you might come from a rural area in which few students go on to college.

Essentially, affirmative action guidelines encourage public employers and public educational institutions to diversify their ranks so that opportunities are not just for the wealthy and those with connections.  For example, former President George W. Bush was a C student in high school, yet he went to Yale University because he was a “legacy” student:  His father, former President George H. W. Bush, was a former Yale student, and since Yale is a private institution, it can do what it pleases when it comes to admitting students.  We recently witnessed the college entrance scandal where a number of well-known celebrities paid people to get their children accepted at various institutions even though the parents lied about their children’s academic records or athletic abilities (a few parents had or have to go to prison).  So we know from history that some people benefit because of their parents’ wealth or positions in society.  Personally, I never had a person of color as a teacher during my K-12 years (actually, I didn’t go to kindergarten:  I started in the first grade); during my college years, I only had one person of color, the Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott, as a professor but for just one week at Stanford University:  Walcott was a visiting professor.  I can only imagine what it must be like to have diverse teachers and professors.  For a 19-year period, I was the only Latino full-time English faculty member at COS.  (If you read my biography at the end of the syllabus, you know that I passed up opportunities to teach at universities–and I know my record of achievement had a lot to do with those opportunities, not my ethnicity).

Hence, I know from my own experience that most educational institutions aren’t as diverse as the communities in which they’re located.  The largest Tulare County racial/ethnic groups are “Hispanic” (64.6%) followed by “White” (28.5%) and “Asian” (3.2%) according to July 1, 2019 U. S. Census Bureau data, yet the makeup of our own COS faculty is overwhelming not Latino (I personally don’t use “Hispanic” as a self identifier unless I have to on government document since that’s a language indicator the government decided to use to count people who are not considered White European but often use Spanish as a primary or secondary language:  Hispanics can be of any race or ethnicity).

Specifically, does Rodriguez mainly depend on his ethnic identification to get job offers?  Did he and the Jewish student have similar records of achievement?  We do know that Rodriguez has an extraordinary educational background:  he went to private K-12 schools; he went to Stanford, Columbia, and UC Berkeley (Berkeley is where the Jewish student meets Rodriguez–I have no idea if the Jewish student went to private K-12 schools or could even get into Stanford right out of high school or could get into Columbia:  Personally, I would argue that UC Berkeley is the least prestigious of the three universities since it’s also the largest school with approx. 43,000 students:  Stanford only has approx. 17,000 students and Columbia has approx. 33,000 students:  the smaller the population, the fewer spots are available.  I do know that Rodriguez got an NEA grant to study abroad in London, England (I have no idea if the Jewish student could get an NEA fellowship), and I know that Rodriguez was publishing articles while in college (again, I don’t know the publication history of the Jewish student).  What I do know about the Jewish student is that he has a high sense of self:  He seems disturbed that the only job offer he could get was at a state college that isn’t prestigious.  In contrast, I know Rodriguez has incredibly low self esteem and can be easily persuaded by this Jewish student’s complaint to decline the Yale position.  Why is Rodriguez suppressing his extensive educational background and achievements?  With his incredibly impressive education history, would Rodriguez need any unmerited help to secure employment?  Remember, he was a 17th century literature scholar:  They are quite rare when it comes to PhDs coming out of graduate schools (most PhDs in English are considered generalists and don’t focus just on one area of expertise as Rodriguez did).  Again, we don’t know the Jewish student’s area of expertise:  We know literally nothing about the Jewish student’s background other than he was one of many graduate students in English accepted at UC Berkeley (and it’s easier to get into UC Berkeley than it is to get into Stanford or even Columbia since they have smaller student populations than UC Berkeley).  If I were on a hiring committee and came across an applicant who had Rodriguez’ academic record, I would certainly be impressed, to say the least.

Does Rodriguez unfairly benefit from affirmative action guidelines, or does he for some reason suppress his extraordinary academic achievements to deny himself employment?  Think of Rodriguez’ academic achievements as the layers of a cake:  the bottom layer represents his private K-12 schooling; the next layer is his time at Stanford; the next layer is his time at Columbia; the next layer is his time at UC Berkeley; the next layer is his area of specialization (17th century literature); the next layer is his NEA fellowship; the top layer is his record of publications; the cherry on the top is that he’s a person of color.  Why is Rodriguez suppressing all of those cake layers and just focusing on the tiny cherry at the top?  Again, take into account his battle with low self esteem.

Chapter 6:  Rodriguez has concerns about his dedication to “the truth” as a writer and his belief that others like his parents are victims of extraordinary oppression.

Rodriguez argues that because he’s a writer, he has a duty to the “truth” as he sees it, even if such “truths” are hurtful to those close to him.  He also argues that people like his parents suffer precisely because they can’t use written discourse to convey their own concerns.

Of course, one expects writers of autobiography like Rodriguez to adhere to factual events and not create fiction or promote falsehoods.  However, Rodriguez expressly ignores his mother’s pleas to him to not write about “the family” but, rather, he should write just about himself.

This issue about one’s duty as writer can be a difficult one:  to what extent does one write about one’s personal history to the point of excluding people who were and are central figures in one’s life?  Where does one draw the line, to use a trite phrase?  Does one adhere to a mother’s request to not include her or her husband in one’s writings?  Or, to make everyone happy, does one wait until one’s parents are deceased and then write about them?  What about living siblings who could find such writing offensive or in some way see it as a betrayal despite a parent’s wishes?  Do writers owe the public everything even though that might cause harm to the persons close to them?

And are people like his parents victims of extraordinary repression (is it oppression?–I don’t have the book on me at the moment) because they can’t use written discourse?  Keep in mind that the vast majority of humans who lived on the planet were illiterate:  Literacy in America is a relatively recent phenomenon:  compulsory schooling wasn’t a reality for most people on the planet, and even in some countries, basic education is still a privilege for those who can afford it.

I think that’s enough help.  Just remember that you need to select two arguments from two different chapters (not from the same chapter):

You’ll first have an introductory paragraph where you’ll introduce Rodriguez and his book’s title; you’ll also note the two arguments to be analyzed (never use “I” or “we” or “our” or “you” in your essay–if you have to use a pronoun, use “one”); finally, in that introductory paragraph, you’ll note briefly the possible fallacies Rodriguez commits.

In your second paragraph, you’ll summarize in your own words the first Rodriguez argument you mentioned in your introduction:  Summaries are written in your own words:  don’t use any quotations or even paraphrases in your summary.  I need to know if you can accurately summarize Rodriguez’ arguments.  You’ll only summarize the first argument in this second paragraph.

In your third paragraph, you’ll then begin to analyze Rodriguez’ argument:  Now you need to quote phrases or brief sentences (no long quotations–you can’t use any block quotations) to illustrate your analysis.  Make sure you’re analyzing statements that might very well be examples of Rodriguez’ fallacious reasoning (again, that’s why I selected his text:  He commits plenty of fallacies).  And you want to also briefly quote something out of the Boardman, Cavender, and Kahane text; you must do so, but keep such quotations to a brief length.  What you can’t do is quote some other sources:  Your ability to logically reason is the main point of this essay, NOT your ability to find other sources that comment on Rodriguez:  That would be plagiarism since your reasoning is what’s needed, not some outside source’s logic.

You might need another paragraph of analysis if you break down the argument into two or more major fallacies.

After you’ve analyzed the first argument mentioned in your introduction, now repeat the process:  Your next paragraph will summarize the second Rodriguez argument.  Again, you use your own words:  Don’t paraphrase or quote in your summary.

After the second summary, then start analyzing the second argument in the same manner in which you analyzed the first one.  Again, you might need two paragraphs of analysis if you’ve decided to focus on two or more major fallacies.

Your concluding paragraph will NOT repeat your introduction which is basically your thesis; rather, you’ll end your essay with an insight:  What insight can you provide the reader about Rodriguez and his arguments?  I hope you’ve examined the sample paragraphs I placed in the module for this assignment.

Keep in mind the other requirements:  use a semicolon in every paragraph; use a colon in every other paragraph; use a subordinated sentence in every paragraph (those subordinated sentences must begin with subordinating conjunctions like if, when, although, even though, because, as, whenever, while, and other subordinating conjunctions I’m forgetting at the moment); use complete sentences (no sentence fragments allowed); use topic statements to guide the development of your body paragraphs; use transitional words and phrases both at the beginning of body paragraphs and within them

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