Thursday, February 22, 2007

Distance in marriage in Assimilation

Sherman Alexie’s Assimilation struck me as a very interesting take on the issue of multi-racial couples. Normally you think of the main issue in a multi-racial couple being external pressures from people not being accepting of a multi-racial union. In this story this is not the issues, however. In this story it seems that normal marital problems are complicated, both in the story, and in the minds of the characters, by the issue of race.
The main character describes the frustrations in her marriage. She is disinterested in the sex, despite the fact that her husband seems to be happy with it. She describes a scenario in the supermarket in which she becomes strongly attracted to a rather homely random woman. She also describes her frustration with her husbands need to be involved in everything he sees going on. She says that neither of them love each other and that her husband merely loves the marriage itself. All these issues are issues that could be present in a marriage without a race issue.
Race, however, adds another aspect to each of these matters. Her general disinterest in sex within her marriage turns into a desire to have sex with an Indian man. Though she first realized attraction outside of her marriage to a white woman, she decides that it is not a general desire for infidelity, but a desire to have sex with an Indian man. She explains that white men were always safe and dependable in her mind, so she was always with white men. An Indian man, then, is dangerous and exciting. She sees her husband’s need to get involved in everything as a result of his rage that she had seen “in other white men when their wishes and desires were ignored”. At the end of the story the suicide of a woman makes both characters realize that they want to be together. Despite their differences in experience of life and the fact that they have grown apart over the years, they, “loved each other across the distance”.

1 comment:

christinag said...

For the most part, I tend to shy away from humorous poems, as they are generally inconsequential. Pointless. Doing nothing in the way of change. While I feel this way in regards to most of the poems we've been assigned, some of the pieces were undeniably entertaining and insightful. I especially liked the poem entitled "a crash of rhinos" by paisley rekdal. In this poem, rekdal takes the concept of love, which is generally viewed and described in terms magical and white, and examines it so closely and realistically it becomes sort of grotesque. In the end, the writer seems to conclude that love is mostly used to ease the pain of essential human separation. "the night my mother meets bruce lee" is another outstanding poem by paisley rekdal which comments on the shoddinessand transcience of happiness. He makes it seem as if happiness is merely a trick one plays on oneself. Allison Joseph's "In Praise of the Penis" is very funny, simply because it is an ode to the penis. I can appreciate Lucille Clifton's "wishes for sons" because her discussion of the plight of woman hits closeto home forobvious reasons. However, upon finishing the poem,I was left wanting more. Perhaps more about the psychological plight? "Ang Tunay Lalaki is Addicted to New York" is one of my favorites from the section, and also the one I find most humorous. Line breaks are key: "she gives good/ similes..." Also, the use of literary terms is brilliant: "her tongue trochees// from the base/ to the top of his penis/ spondees around the head."