Priyanka Panta, Response paper
Chitra Divakaruni's "Silver Pavements, Golden Roofs" is a fictional story about an Indian Girl Jayanti who comes to Chicago from Calcutta to pursue her higher studies. The story gradually presents the high hopes and aspirations that the immigrants have from the United States, the approaches of the immigrants to assimilate to live up an American Dream, and the struggles they encounter during the process.
America: a promised land full of opportunities, freedom, tolerance, and sophistication. The primary reason for an immigrant to assimilate American culture is to accomplish "American Dream". It will be easier to achieve, if one appears, talks, and behaves like an American. In this story, Jayanti admires the look of a perfect blonde American air hostess. She looks at her customary long braid and decides to cut and style it like a stereotypical American woman. (Divakaruni, Page 70) The minorities also try to practice American culture. Jayanti and her aunt Pratima are embarrassed performing an Indian tradition of greeting elders by touching their feet. Her aunt awkwardly practices American greeting style and kisses her on her cheeks. (Divakaruni, Page 72) The Indian roots pressurize them to do so but these minorities try their best to abandon their ethnic roots and blend themselves into the American society. Besides these, Bikram uses staccato American English. (Divakaruni, Page 72) Language is the major barrier between two cultures. Therefore, these minorities try hard to articulate words in an American accent for better communication. Another reason for assimilation is to escape the conservative and the traditional society. Jayanti imagines a romantic relationship with a handsome American professor. She logically argues on a topic and successfully convinces him. She then fantasizes a romantic dinner in a sophisticated restaurant and collaboration for writing a book after their marriage. (Divakaruni, Page 76) Since most marriages in India are arranged by the parents, her fantasy for romance portrays a woman's wish to choose the partner they love. Like Aunt Pratima, most women in conservative societies are not able to express their views. Women are plotted to sit inside the house and be a part of the kitchen. Her imagination to express her beliefs and write a book together represents a traditional Indian girl's desire to share her beliefs with her husband and to be on an equal level. Therefore, these circumstances demand a certain level of assimilation from the minorities, when they are in a foreign land.
America does provide a lot of opportunities to the deserving minorities. Jayanti is enrolled in American University where people from all over the world face a fierce competition. (Divakaruni Page 75) Jayanti's uncle Bikram said that the Americans blame minorities for the "damn economy" and for taking away their jobs. (Divakaruni, Page 75) If we look at the other side of this statement, we can see that these...