Thursday, February 22, 2007


“Assimilation” by Sherman Alexie tells the story of an Indian woman exploring the subject of race within her marriage to a white man. She loves her husband but still lusts over the color he doesn’t have and she fantasizes of sleeping with an Indian man. She and her husband meet for dinner and comfortably bicker like an old couple that know each other far too well to be really angry.

This piece really explores the idea of race in a very-touchy way: because the discussion of race itself is touchy. Acknowledging race makes it an issue and even if a difference or handicap is widely accepted, it is still dragging it through the mud by pointing it out. This story argues that race is silly but real and that there are two ways a ball can role. Part of this story seems to be Mary Lynn trying to figure out if she really loves Jeremiah or loves him because he is white. Sleeping with the Indian man seems to have only affirmed her belief that she loves Jeremiah beyond his skin color and beyond even her own.

The decisions Mary Lynn makes are her attempt to go for the things she feels are correct, not necessarily the ones she wants. Just as she smokes the herbal cigarettes even though she hates them, and married a white man but fantasizes over men within her own race. She fills the role as an open-minded individual when her real deep inner longings have been repressed so long she has taken on these views as if they were her own. After so many years of playing her role, she seems to really break down and doesn’t necessarily know what she wants. She feels strangely attracted to the “ugly woman” in the grocery though she has never swung that way, and she wishes to sleep with any Indian man she can rope in only because he is Indian.

At the end of the story, the bridge they are driving across is stopped dead for a suicidal woman jumping off the bridge. Jeremiah got out to see why it was stopped and while he is gone Mary Lynn believes he must have died. When she thinks it is all over, what and whom she thought about are the closest to her heart. For Mary Lynn lust may be racial, transcends all colors and differences. All through this she really thinks about how much she truly loves him and after the woman jumps to her death screaming a man’s name, Jeremiah realizes he will never leave his wife.

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