Hunger of Memory

Rodriguez’s Grandmother Character Analysis

Though her life and death are wholly encompassed in the first chapter of the book, Rodriguez makes it clear that his grandmother played an important role in his life. She grew up in Mexico and was the only one of Rodriguez’s relatives who spoke no English. Rodriguez writes that his grandmother had “no interest in gringo society,” and was wholly protected from living a public life by her daughters and by Rodriguez himself, who acted as her translator when they went to the grocery store together. It is largely from his grandmother’s example that Rodriguez comes to draw the conclusion that intimacy is an experience that goes beyond language. Thus, though she only appears in one chapter of the book, Rodriguez’s grandmother is an important figure due to her influence on many of the important questions in his writing.

Rodriguez’s Grandmother Quotes in Hunger of Memory

The Hunger of Memory quotes below are all either spoken by Rodriguez’s Grandmother or refer to Rodriguez’s Grandmother . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Private vs. Public Identity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dial Press edition of Hunger of Memory published in 2004.
Chapter 1 Quotes

He wanted to know what she had said. I started to tell him, to say—to translate her Spanish words into English. The problem was, however, that though I knew how to translate exactly what she had told me, I realized that any translation would distort the deepest meaning of her message: It had been directed only to me. This message of intimacy could never be translated because it was not in the words she had used but passed through them. So any translation would have seemed wrong; her words would have been stripped of an essential meaning.

Related Characters: Richard Rodriguez (speaker), Rodriguez’s Grandmother
Page Number: 31
Explanation and Analysis:

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Rodriguez’s Grandmother Character Timeline in Hunger of Memory

The timeline below shows where the character Rodriguez’s Grandmother appears in Hunger of Memory. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Aria
Language, Intimacy, and Authority Theme Icon
“Aria” closes with Rodriguez’s poetic remembrance of the last time he saw his grandmother before she died. He can remember what she said to him, but he doesn’t communicate... (full context)