The symbol of Books in Hunger of Memory from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes

Hunger of Memory

Books Symbol Icon

Hunger of Memory is a book full of other books. Rodriguez frequently references books and authors he admires, such as Hoggart’s The Uses of Literacy, or Shakespeare, Milton, and Austen. In this regard, books symbolize Rodriguez seizing and asserting his identity as an educated, middle-class man with extensive knowledge of the Western canon. However, as much as books symbolize Rodriguez’s belonging in academic spaces, books also symbolize his alienation from his family and peers. Rodriguez is more often seen in the company of books than people, and, in this way, books come to embody the educational and literary ambitions that have set him apart (literally and metaphorically) from his parents and siblings. Books, then, occupy a complicated place in the memoir. They are at once Rodriguez’s passion and avenue towards professional success, and a barrier to his continued connection with his non-literary family.

Books Quotes in Hunger of Memory

The Hunger of Memory quotes below all refer to the symbol of Books. 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.
Prologue Quotes

Aztec ruins hold no special interest for me. I do not search Mexican graveyards for ties to unnamable ancestors. I assume I retain certain features of gesture and mood derived from buried lives. I also speak Spanish today. And read García Lorca and García Márquez at my leisure. But what consolation can that fact bring against the knowledge that my mother and father have never heard of García Lorca or García Márquez?

Related Symbols: Books
Page Number: 3-4
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 2 Quotes

Those times I remembered the loss of my past with regret, I quickly reminded myself of all the things my teachers could give me. (They could make me an educated man.) I tightened my grip on pencil and books. I evaded nostalgia. Tried hard to forget. But one does not forget by trying to forget. One only remembers. I remembered too well that education had changed my family’s life. I would not have become a scholarship boy had I not so often remembered.

Related Symbols: Books
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:
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Playfully she ran through complex sentences, calling the words alive with her voice, making it seem that the author somehow was speaking directly to me. I smiled just to listen to her. I sat there and sensed for the very first time some possibility of fellowship between a reader and a writer, a communication, never intimate like that I heard spoken words at home convey, but one nonetheless personal.

Related Characters: Richard Rodriguez (speaker)
Related Symbols: Silence, Books
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 3 Quotes

A child whose parents could not introduce him to books like Grimm’s Fairy Tales, I was introduced to the spheres of enchantment by the nighttime Catholicism of demons and angels. The superstitious Catholicism of home provided a kind of proletarian fairy world.

Related Symbols: Books
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 4 Quotes

In my bedroom were books by poets and novelists—books that I loved—in which male writers published feelings the men in my family never revealed or acknowledged in words. And it seemed to me that there was something unmanly about my attachment to literature. Even today, when so much about the myth of the macho no longer concerns me, I cannot altogether evade such notions.

Related Characters: Richard Rodriguez (speaker), Rodriguez’s Father
Related Symbols: Books
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 6 Quotes

I have come to think of myself as engaged in writing graffiti. Encouraged by physical isolation to reveal what is most personal; determined at the same time to have my words seen by strangers. I have come to understand better why works of literature—while never intimate, never individually addressed to the reader—are so often among the most personal statements we hear in our lives.

Related Characters: Richard Rodriguez (speaker)
Related Symbols: Books
Page Number: 203
Explanation and Analysis:
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Books Symbol Timeline in Hunger of Memory

The timeline below shows where the symbol Books appears in Hunger of Memory. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: The Achievement of Desire
Education, Ambition, and Belonging Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
...as both enthusiastic and sad. He describes how he began to fall in love with books and spent more and more time alone, apart from his family. (full context)
Education, Ambition, and Belonging Theme Icon
Rodriguez begins to explore his relationship with books. Hoggart writes that the scholarship boy sees books as “strange tools,” and Rodriguez affirms this... (full context)