"But I couldn't believe that the English language was mine to use. (In part, I did not want to believe it.)" (1)
Richard tells us about how Spanish is his first language and that he now had to learn English. He refers to Spanish as a private language and English as a public language. He was reluctant to learn English at first because he knew it would change his life and his family. His parents only spoke Spanish and they pushed their kids to learn English so that they would do better in school, this slowly distanced the family apart. He knew that if he started speaking English more than Spanish then he would be driving a wedge between himself and his parents, and he didn't want that. So partly he didn't want to be allowed to speak English because in time he figured out that he would loose his essence as a Spanish speaker.
"The family's quiet was partly due to the fact that, as we children learned more and more English, we shared fewer and fewer words with our parents."(4)
This quote portrays the down side to Richard and his siblings learning English. It essentially broke the relationship that he had with his parents because they knew very little English and they wanted their kids to be able to learn in school. All a parent wants to do is ask their kids "how was your day at school?" and they couldn't. He talks about how the nuns came to his house and talked to his parents about the little progress that the kids were making in learning English at school. The nuns asked if they could encourage them to speak English at home and of course they agreed to it, and Richard saw this as them giving away the sounds that held their family together. The nuns even changed his name to Richard instead of Ricardo, I find that crazy that someone, even a nun, thinks they have the authority to modify a person's name. Their name is what gives them their identity and they think they can just not call them it to make it easier on you to pronounce.
"I heard several Spanish-speaking nuns-their busy, singsong overlapping voices-assure us that-yes, yes, we were remembered, all our family was remembered in their prayers."(5)
He talks about three instances were he saw signs of hope that Spanish speakers were still around, and they served as memories of what his family used to be like before speaking English. In this instance he was with his mother at a convent and he saw the shadows of these nuns who were speaking Spanish. While listening to their sounds, he felt that his old life wasn't gone forever and this reassured him that his family was going to be okay. This instance showed that as long as he hears Spanish every once and a while out in the public, I think he will be able to accept the English language as his own.
"So they do not realize that while one suffers a diminished sense of private individuality by becoming assimilated into public society, such assimilation makes possible the achievement of public individuality."(6)
During this entire article Richard expresses the differences between someone's private and public individuality. He saw private as his life at home with his parents and the public was the outside (English speaking) world. In this quote Richard is talking about how society strived to conform anyone who didn't speak English. So when his parents made him speak English at home it diminished his sense of "private individuality" in a place where he thought he was safe from the outside world trying to affect him.