Richard Rodriguez’s Writing Style Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: May 13th, 2019

Richard Rodriguez has become one of the most controversial figures of study today. In his writing, “The Achievement of Desire” Rodriguez gives a narration of his life while recounting the reasons and the ways in which he educated himself. Notably, he is not the only author who narrates about his life.

Malcolm X also wrote a narrative about his experiences. However, it is necessary to note that Rodriguez’s writing as well as the work by Malcolm X is very intimate. However, Rodriguez’s writing is more efficient as the author uses winning writing strategies. Thus, this essay aims to argue that Richard Rodriguez is a more effective writer by considering issues of word choice and writing style.

Rodriguez gives a narration of the path of his educational career in his writing. The author uses emotional appeal to incorporate writing styles such as first person narration, comparison and contrast, and evidence: aspects of writing with style that makes his revelations fascinating, thus an excellent writer (Vonnegut 27).

Having laid down the fact that he was a scholarship boy, Rodriguez, in a strategic manner, makes use of the first person narration technique to underline his inner struggles as a scholarship boy. He plays his own informant by using his voice to narrate what he went through, “I intended to hurt my mother and father. I was still angry at them” (Rodriguez 601). Additionally, by using his own voice, he makes the story even more original.

Malcolm X also uses first person narration. His writing is intimate as he reveals his emotions and ideas, “I became increasingly frustrated at not being able to express what I wanted to convey in letters that I wrote” (Malcolm X 78).

The author highlights the time he spent in jail. Of course, such kind of experience makes the reader sympathise the writer. With the help of the first person narration, the author achieves a very special effect. He shares his emotions and he does not alienate himself from the events he is revealing. Of course, this is one of the most effective writing techniques.

It is possible to note that Malcolm X manages to write a more appealing paper. Thus, Rodriguez simply narrates about his experiences. However, Malcolm X addresses the reader, “As you can imagine, especially in prison… an inmate was smiled upon” (80). It seems that Malcolm X is simply having a friendly and even frank conversation. This is a very strong writing technique. It is possible to note that Rodriguez’s writing lacks this technique.

However, Rodriguez’s writing has features that make his writing more effective than that of Malcolm X. Thus, a common writing strategy that Rodriguez employs in his essay is comparison and contrast. The author uses comparison when contemplating his relationships with parents and teachers.

At the beginning of the essay, Rodriguez compares his father with the scholarship boy when he cites the statement of Hoggart that “[f]ather says intermittently whatever comes into his head…” (599). Relatively, Rodriguez talks about the scholarship boy that “the boy must rehearse his thoughts and raise his hand before speaking out” (599).

These instances depict the father as being unthinking, unpredictable, and confused as he speaks whatsoever comes into his mind. The scholarship boy, on the other hand, is by contrast a well-behaved, contemplative and tolerant person. These statements point out how the scholarship boy and his father are enormously dissimilar. The boy is advanced and civilized, whereas the father is unenlightened and uncivilized.

Another example of comparison and contrast is that of the school and the parents of the scholarship boy. The author reveals the difference between the two spheres, his family and his school:

From his mother and father the boy learns to trust spontaneity and non-traditional ways of knowing… Teachers emphasize the value of a reflectiveness that opens a space between thinking and immediate action. (Rodriguez 599)

This assertion illustrates the decreasing relationship between the boy and his parents. When it comes to the writing of Malcolm X, there are almost no comparisons. The author simply provides some of his ideas on various topics. He uses comparison occasionally and this makes his writing a bit plain.

Moreover, Rodriguez makes use of short phrases to display his lonesomeness and some other feelings he experiences. Oftentimes, he uses single-sentence words like “Sad… Enthusiastic… Eager… Enthralled and Nervous…” (602).

Separation of these phrases represents the state of solitariness that he feels while simultaneously expressing the mixed feelings resulting from his educational achievements. This pithy style describes the vague plight of his state of affairs and sets a tone of incertitude. He is eager to study yet refuses to acknowledge his withdrawal from his onetime family lifestyle (Rodriguez 602).

In contrast to Rodriguez, Malcolm X uses quite difficult structures and ‘smart’ words. Of course, the author is writing about serious things but he choose quite complicated words:

I perceived, as I read, how the collective white man had been actually nothing but a practical opportunist who used Faustian machinations to make his own Christianity his initial wedge in criminal conquest. (Malcolm X 83)

In fact, the entire writing consists of such sentences, which are quite difficult to comprehend. It is important to note that this is one of the major shortcomings of the writing by Malcolm X. He uses too many long and difficult words instead of using short words and simple structures. The use of difficult words makes the writing quite difficult to follow. The reader has to make extra effort to follow the writer’s ideas.

This makes the writing quite ineffective. The reader can fail to understand the author’s idea while struggling with the words and structures. Of course, over simplicity is also bad, but Malcolm X is too deliberate while choosing words. On the contrary, Rodriguez writes in simple words, which makes his paper easy to follow. The reader feels relaxed and enjoys reading it. Of course, Rodriguez’s writing is more effective.

In conclusion, Rodriguez has shown effectual use of writing styles such as use of short phrases, first person narration, comparison and contrast, and evidence. Therefore, in my opinion, Rodriguez is really an efficient writer as his writing makes the reader understand how scholarship students will ineluctably belittle their relationship with their family eventually forgetting their background, as they become newly learned individuals. Notably, Malcolm X is very intimate.

He uses the first person narration quite effectively. He also addresses the reader, which enhances the effect of certain intimacy and frankness. However, Malcolm X does not use comparison and this makes his paper a bit plain. Finally, Malcolm X uses complicated structures, which makes his writing difficult to follow. Therefore, Rodriguez is indeed a more efficient writer than Malcolm X.

Works Cited

Malcolm X. Learning to Read. n.d. Web.

Rodriguez, Richard. Hunger of Memory: An Autobiography; the Education of Richard Rodríguez. Boston, MA: Godine, 1982.

Vonnegut, Kurt. How to Write with Style. New York, NY: International Paper Company, 1980.




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