In fact, this separation existed long after Rodriguez's formative years: What I am about to say to you has taken me more than twenty years to admit: "A primary reason for my success in the classroom was that I couldn't forget that schooling was changing me and separating me from the life I enjoyed before becoming a student. From a very early age, I understood enough, just enough about my classroom experiences to keep what I knew repressed, hidden beneath layers of embarrassment.
Not until my last months as a graduate student, nearly thirty years old, was it possible for me to think much about the reasons for my academic success. At the end of my schooling, I needed to determine how far I had moved from my past." Note the language Rodriguez uses: he "moved" far from his past, he was "changed" and "separated" and had to "repress" notions of who he was.
Some Mexican Americans called him pocho, Americanized Mexican, accusing him of betraying himself and his people.
Others called him a "coconut," brown on the outside, but white on the inside.
Rodriguez spoke Spanish until he went to a Catholic school at 6. Rodriguez's works have also been published in Harper's Magazine, Mother Jones, and Time.
As a youth in Sacramento, California, he delivered newspapers and worked as a gardener. Instead of pursuing a career in academia, Rodriguez suddenly decided to write freelance and take other temporary jobs.
True, the positive factors of perseverance and courage pervade, but they are not unaccompanied by mitigating narrative factors. I became the prized student - anxious and eager to learn.
That is Rodriguez's image of "scholarship boy" in a nutshell: "For although I was a very good student, I was also a very bad student. Too eager, too anxious - an imitative and unoriginal pupil.
His is the more common tale, the more practical one. In reality, immigrant success stories are not at all cut-and-dried.
Rather, they are amalgamations of doubt, repression and regret.