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Longing in Literature by Rodriguez, Du Bois, Perrault

Writers, activists, public speakers, poets, and other creators tend to influence people around them and society as a whole through their unique depictions of a journey. Some individuals share their emotions and ways to understand them. Others document their political aspirations and means to achieve peace or social equality. Overall, despite having different end goals, all journeys presented in the class share a similar aspect, which is a powerful feeling of longing or desire. Authors of literature experience different longings, where Rodriguez’s desires are conflicting, Du Bois is longing for a social change, and Perrault presents an adverse effect of intense urges.

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The Longing in the Works of Literature

Rodriguez depicts the conflicting longing within the context of his writing. The purpose of Aria: A Memoir of a Bilingual Childhood is to present the life of bilingual children in a setting where English is the primary language for communication. Rodriguez presents stories of his personal experience and family culture to explain what he lost and earned while moving from his native language to English within various social contexts. The author mentions the provocative debate over the influence of bilingual education. Rodriguez claims that it can hurt the unique identity of non-English speakers (574). He illustrates the advantage of obtaining his public status, which enabled him to integrate into society (Rodriguez 574). However, it also prompted a drastic loss of closeness between him and his parents. Overall, the vital aspect of his journey is a strong feeling of longing. Rodriguez has conflicting yearning desires, including the wish to preserve his culture, connect to his roots, and a need to belong to the English-speaking society. His journey presents the complexity of human emotions, as one can simultaneously have an intense longing for different matters.

Furthermore, Du Bois uses his feeling of longing for social change for his political activism. He debates Booker Washington’s approach of concentrating the society on vocational education for k people. The author believes that classical education is essential to train future leaders in the African-American community. He points out that Washington’s work has the “old attitude of adjustment and submission” (Du Bois). Du Bois insists that Washington desires black people to give up their political and civil rights, as well as the possibility to achieve higher education. He worries about the black population’s disenfranchisement, the community’s legal inferiority, and the withdrawal of higher training of African-Americans. Du Bois experiences the significant journey of reformation of early post-slavery America. Overall, the author is longing for a change in the political rights of black people in society.

Lastly, Charles Perrault presents how longing can lead to harmful consequences. Little Red Riding Hood is one of the most famous fairytales of all time. The story shows the journey of a girl visiting her grandmother while being confronted by a wolf (“Little Red Riding Hood”). The story does not have a happy ending as a wolf eats the main human characters. The story might seem to be naive and unrealistic; however, the journey of Little Red Riding Hood presents the obsessive longing of predators to communicate with young children. The wolf is approaching a child in a trustworthy manner while trying to ask her for essential information that will eventually get both her and their grandmother killed.

Comparison of Literature within the Context of Longing

Journeys can be motivated by various desires and passions. A longing inspires every journey because each of them needs to have a goal or a purpose. Rodriguez is longing for self-identification in a society full of drastically different individuals than he ever was or will be. At the same time, he desires to fit in and feel normal in the new society, where he and his family are alienated. The main focus of his longing is learning more about his state of mind the and the community around him. Humans are complicated creatures; thus, individuals can feel a spectrum of different emotions simultaneously. The longing in this text plays an essential role because Rodriguez reveals his psychological state and personal experiences throughout the journey by explaining his inner desires.

Despite the positive effects of longing, some forms can have an adverse impact on socieSimilararly to Rodriguez, Du Bois’s journey for fighting injustice is based on the intense longing for change. As a person of color, he was able to experience the adversities of inequalities in the American society of the early 20th century. Therefore, the longing to improve the black community’s conditions in the United States motivated the author to be politically active. However, the longing in itself does not exclusively lead to positive change. Unlike the two previous authors, Charles Perrault described how desires could be inherently harmful.


In conclusion, literature has many excellent and diverse examples of individuals or fictional characters going through a journey in their life. Some writings are connected to personal experiences; some are aimed at the bigger audience in pursuit of political and social reconstruction, and some present important ideas through fairytales. Overall, some writings from the course are similar because longing is presented as their key motivator for the journey.

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Du Bois, William. “Chapter 3: Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others.” The Souls of Black Folk, 1903, etc.Web.

“Little Red Riding Hood.” University of Pittsburg, 2003, Web.

Rodriguez, Richard. Aria: A Memoir of a Bilingual Childhood. The University of Texas. 1980, Web.

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