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El Postino


Submitted By patitos1322
Words 910
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In the film “Il Postino” by director Michael Radford, the character Mario Ruoppolo is a functional illiterate whose life changes when he meets the recently exiled and famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Prior to the arrival of the poet, Mario leads a dull life on his island and according to tradition is destined to follow in the footsteps of his father who is a fisherman. Mario wants nothing to do with this type of life, so instead he takes on the job to be the personal mailman to Neruda. As time passes Neruda takes a liking to Mario and takes him under his literary wing. Neruda teaches Mario how beautiful the world of poetry is. Almost immediately Mario begins to see the world in a different light. This inspires Mario who improves his literacy skills to the point where he attempts to create poetry of his own to win over his love Beatrice. Initially his attempts at poetry fail miserably, but that is not the point of the film, especially since Mario dies tragically before reciting his poem dedicated to Neruda. The point of the film is really about how literacy can change a person's life for the better. I believe that I can compare experiences in my life to those of the character Mario. I immigrated to the United States several years ago with little knowledge of English. Although being a college level student in Ecuador, the English I learned was rudimentary and not enough to enter college in the US. Instead I attended English courses for about two years and eventually qualified to attend remedial English courses at LaGuardia Community College. I feel that this period of my life is one which I can relate the most to the character of Mario. I really wanted to learn English, it was my dream. I knew that without a mastery of English, life would be difficult here in the US. Like Mario who was mentored by Neruda, I was mentored by my first English professor Sue Owen. She inspired me to truly learn and improve my English skills. She taught me to look deeply into the words and look for meanings that are not immediately apparent. She showed me how to construct my sentences correctly choosing the correct grammatical structure. Now when I read, I have a deeper understanding of the writer's ideas and can visualize his images. Because of this I feel that now I really have a chance at a better life here. I am not perfect and I still have much to learn, but I already feel that my life has changed for the better. New doors of opportunity are now opened to me where before they were closed tight. After LaGuardia I will continue on to senior college, maybe Hunter or Queens College, I have not decided yet, but I know that I can make it. Perhaps the greatest example of literacy bettering one's life is that of my late grandfather Alfonso Salazar. My grandfather grew up as a farmer in Ecuador, South America. At the time the only school that was available taught only up to the third grade. So having a third grade education he continued to farm and over many years taught himself how to read and write at higher levels just be reading the local news papers “El Commercio” and “El Universo”. Having hired “peones” to work the land, my grandfather eventually made enough money and free time to buy a bus and join a Bus driver's cooperative union called “Primavera”. This was a great way to earn money because at the time in Ecuador almost no one had a car. My grandfather eventually became the secretary of the Cooperative Union “Primavera” of Bus drivers of Salcedo Ecuador. At union functions he wrote speeches that were both funny and informative. As Salcedo is a small town in Ecuador, many people knew Alfonso personally and would ask him to write speeches for them because Salcedo and neighboring towns would host many festivals and gatherings of the local people. I remember on one occasion my mother, a teacher at a local school asked my grandfather to write a speech for an award ceremony at the high school where she taught. It left an impression on me when people like my mother, who technically had a “higher” education then my grandfather, would go to him for help in writing a speech that she would recite in front of professors. I realized then that a person does not need a “formal” education to be literate. Literacy can be achieved on one's own maybe with some inspiration, but mostly through hard work and determination. Much like in Mario's life where literacy opened his eyes to a world with more possibilities, and he was invited to recite his poem which was called "Canto a Pablo Neruda" in front of an audience. People also appreciated my grandfather's ability to captivate the audience with his words. By writing many speeches for others, in a way my grandfather too was invited to speak in front of many audiences. In conclusion, I would like to say that literacy is something that can not be measured by how many difficult books one has read or even how high his level of reading is. I feel that literacy should be measured by how one applies what he has read and how he uses it to better himself and the world around him.

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