Richard Rodriguez is a writer who is artistic, and has an idealistic way of recounting things. In his essay “Late Victorians” he writes how a woman jumps off the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. He describes it as “…before she stepped onto the sky. To land like a spilled purse at my feet,” (Encounters, 496) He compares the woman hitting the ground as a “spilled purse.” When you think of a spilled purse you don’t think of tragedy, so his comparing this insignificant incident of a purse hitting the ground to the death of a woman catches you off guard. Rodriquez says it in such a tranquil manner that the tragedy seems to be unrealistic. He again shows romanticism somewhere else in the essay:
On a Sunday in summer, ten years ago, I was walking home from the Latin mass at Saint Patrick’s, the old Irish parish downtown, when I saw thousands of people on Market Street. It was San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Day parade-not marching backs. There were floats. Banners blocked single lives thematically into a processional mass, not unlike the consortiums of the blessed in Renaissance painting, each saint cherishing the apparatus of his martyrdom. (493)
Rodriguez’s comparing the parade with religious allusions makes it more glorious. He compares the parade of floats and banners to a “processional mass.” He satirically portrays gays as saints just as he is coming from church, which considers homosexuality as a sin. He is basically beautifying the parade. He romanticizes to capture your attention and to bring you into his world. He wants you to see things as he sees them. He wants to “defy anyone who…say[s] what is appropriate to my voice” (Brown, xi).
Rodriguez, in his essay “Peter’s Avocado,” expresses “[b] rown as impurity,” (Brown, 194). This brown is not brown as color but as something “mixed, confused, lumped, impure, unpasteurized, as motives are mixed…”(“Peter’s Avocado”, 197). However, brown can be...
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...of the United States not for the battles and politics, but for the transformation and complexity of language that occurred through the centuries. “I eulogize a literature that is suffused with brown, with allusion, irony, paradox-ha! -pleasure,” (Preface, xi).
With disconnected allusions, metaphors, and unrealism Rodriguez not only conveys his ideas throughout his essays but also is able to show us part of himself as a writer. He respects people’s role in society. He treasures how assimilation can change a culture. He has a passion for brown for converting color and race. He loves language for it’s continuous changes that it has been through over time. He values transformation, whether it is of color, culture, language, or a nation.
1. Rodriguez, Richard. “Late Victorians,” and “The Achievement of Desire.” Encounters: Essays for Exploration and Inquiry. 2nd ed. Ed. Pat C. Hoy II and Robert DiYanni. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2000. 475-492, 493-505
----. “The Triad of Alexis de Tocqueville,” “In the Brown Study,” “The Prince and I,” “Peter’s Avocado,” and “Hispanic.” Brown: The Last Discovery of America. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc, 2002.
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