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”.