Moving to America, for many, has been a reason for opportunity and prosperity. Through persistence, hard work and struggles, they pursue to find success in achieving the ‘American Dream’. One of the major struggles is maintaining one’s traditional values and their individuality while assimilating and not forgetting who he or she really is. The narrator, Jayanti, in “Silver Pavements, Golden Roofs”, by Chitra Divakaruni, illustrates a good example of how a person loses their individuality and self-identity to do whatever it takes to assimilate and fit into the society.
From the beginning of the story, Jayanti 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 Jayanti arrives in America and meets her Uncle and Aunt, she feels ashamed to practice her traditional customs openly in the public. As she says, “I 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 Jayanti 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, Bikram, points out the harsh reality of the struggles of life in 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”, Jayanti choses to...
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