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Major Jenson Essay

952 words - 4 pages

In the play, Major Barbara, by George Bernard Shaw, a Character named Andrew Undershaft tells his daughter Barbara, “You have learnt something. That always at first feels as if you had lost something.” Undershaft uses this quote in a reference to an event in Barbara’s life that has shattered one of her illusions about life. Two of the stories and authors featured in The Norton Reader, Aria by Richard Rodriguez and Always Living in Spanish by Marjorie Agosín seem to directly fit this quote because of their sense of losing their identity, culture and heritage when they first came to the United States. By learning the new “American” ways of life and becoming fluent in the English language both ...view middle of the document...

This plays a big part in the immediate dislike of her surroundings in America, and part of the convincing that she needed to understand that learning a second language wasn’t what she wanted to do for fear of losing where she felt as if she truly belonged.
Another experience that learning the English language brought to both Agosín and Rodriguez was the loss of their culture and heritage. Both authors experienced a loss of closeness with their families due to losing the feelings that were accompanied by the intimate sounds that had been spoken when they were using their very own “private” languages. For Rodriguez, once English had become his primary language, the only place that he could find comfort in these words, ironically would be when he was in a public place. There he was able to communicate with other Spanish speakers and listen to the way that they made the syllables come across to express their emotions. For Agosín, losing her heritage and culture meant losing her ability to preserve her beautiful language and the ability to write for her fellow Chileans in a language that they all understood so well. Agosín describes the preservation of her language as, “To write in Spanish is for me a gesture of survival. And because of translation, my memory has now become a part of the memory of many others” (534 Agosín).
For both authors, learning the English language brought about a great sense of opportunity, but it also brought about a sense of feeling of loss. Some would argue that the opportunity outweighed the loss, but for Agosín it doesn’t seem like that was the case. Instead of embracing the new culture, she was instead reminded of how much she loved the place that she had grown up, and...

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