From the begin inning of the story, Sanity shows signs of assimilation and acceptance, to become an American. Before reaching America, she promises to give herself a typical American look as she mentions, “As soon as I get to Chicago, I promise myself, I will have it cut and styled” (70). She later states, “I lick them, wanting to capture that taste, make it part Of me forever’ convincing the readers she has already started taking in the new environment around her (70). When Sanity arrives in America and meets her uncle and Aunt, she feels ashamed to practice her traditional customs openly n the public.
As she says, “l touch their feet like a good Indian girl should, though I am somewhat embarrassed. Everyone in the airport is watching us” (72). This is where we see how assimilation begins to contribute to the loss of her customs and who she is. One of the main reason Sanity opens herself up to assimilation is her self- absorption of what she imagines the life in America will be like and live that life. Little does she know that the grass is greener on the other side. Even though her uncle, Buckram, points out the harsh reality of the struggles of life n America, as he says ‘Things here aren’t as perfect as people at home like to think…
The Americans hate us. They’re always putting us down because we’re dark-skinned foreigners… You’ll see it for yourself soon enough”, Sanity chooses to ignore it and focus on more ‘colorful’ objects such as, “the sky outside is filled with strange and beautiful stars” which she claims to be ruined with his bitter words (75). Sanity chooses to disregard her uncle which shows that all she wants is everything to happen the way she imagines. In addition, disappointment is another reason Sanity chooses to let assimilation take over her self-identity.
When she finally realizes that America is not as glamorous as she imagined, read about or saw in pictures, she feels disheartened. When she arrives, she looks forward in seeing, “neat red brick house with matching flowery drapes, the huge, perfectly mowed lawn green like it had been painted, the shiny concrete driveway on which sat two shiny motorcars”(73). However, she is greeted by a, “crowded [apartment] with faded, over stuffed sofas and rickety end tables that look like they’ve come from a larger place… E tiny room am to occupy – it is the same size as my bathroom at home” (73, 74). On the other hand, we get a clear picture of what Sanity wants her life to be like. Her daydream of her “more exciting matters” in Modern Novel class gives readers a better understanding of her ‘American Dream’. In which she is wearing an ideal American private school clothing, with a typical American hair style, a handsome professor who falls in love with her and asks to marry her, unlike her Aunt, as she comments, “No arranged marriage like Aunt’s for me” (76).
Finally, Sanity’s first exposure to the world outside her Aunt’s house and the events that lead after, changes who she really is, and wants to become. When she and her Aunt run into the boys in the street, not only are they called “Niger” and experience racism for the first time, they also get attacked by the boys with slush. Furthermore, her Uncle’s reaction shocks Sanity even more when, “the back of his hand catches Aunt Prima across the mouth”, because she stepped out of the house without his permission(82).
After overlooking these events, Sanity feels the need to assimilate and blend in onto her new found environment, as she says, ” notice that the snow has covered my own hands so they are no longer brown but white white white. And now it makes Sense that the pain should be part Of each toothed’ (83). The repetition of ‘white’ shows the urge of becoming ‘white’ because she sees white as the only color that will not be discriminated against. And by ‘pain’, she refers to the struggles she will have to face so she can assimilate and feel accepted in the new environment she has decided to live in, as she states, “until they’re completely covered.
Until they do not hurt at all” (83). Sanity’s urgency to assimilate compels her to change herself just so she can blend in and become the person the society would accept. In this process, she loses her true identity just so she can achieve the American dream. This short story is a good explanation of Steve Forbears quote, ” The essence of the American dream is the understanding that we are here on this earth and in this land for a higher purpose… Anything that stands in the way of the dream, we must fight. Anything that enhances the dream, we must support’.