Analysis of the short-story "Integration"

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Essay of the short-story "Integration"

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The narrator of the short-story "Integration" is John, an Indian man who looks back at his younger life. In the beginning he imagines his birth. He is not sure of his mother's exact origins, but she is from one out of several Indian tribes in the USA. She is a beautiful girl and very young when she is giving birth to John. Right after his birth he is being fetched by a helicopter and flown to a rich, white couple who apparently have adopted him. In high school, John is the only Indian person, but it doesn't seem to cause him any problems. He still has friends and girlfriends too, though all his relationships with girls end quickly. Even though the girls have never intimated it, John is convinced that they break up with him because of their fathers' dislike of him being different than the other American boys.

In spite of the fact that the school treats John as being successfully integrated, he is not treated exactly like the other students and the teachers often make exceptions for him because of his people's history. After finishing high school, John comes across old friends when shopping for an example. He asks and answers questions politely, without really starting any bigger conversation, and after a while he starts disregarding their greetings.


The main character of the short-story "Integration" is John, an Indian man who looks back at his childhood and youth. He is taken away from his mother at birth and flown to a white and rich couple, "Five acres of green, green, grass. A large house. Swimming pool, page 3, line 85-86." He has always been surrounded by white people, and a desire of knowing his real origins grows inside of him throughout the story as he learns that his people were and are treaded differently.

He has always been aware of the fact that he is different from his new family and friends, and he has wondered in what this difference consists. However, it is clear that he has never been treaded as being lower to the white race, but actually the kind of contrary. This is shown every time his teachers are making exceptions for him. Another place that shows how his upbringing have been is on page 2, line 28, where he tells that all the new-born babies are very beautiful - both the white and the Indians. The fact that he even bothers to mention a thing like this might seem like common behaviour and gives us the feeling that John has often been told that both races should be treaded equally. And that could be why he cannot accept that people are treading him as someone special. He just wants to be like anyone else, normal, ordinary and boring. He states a few times that he wants to be "a real person", for an example on page 6, line 168.

John always acts like the nice, young man, but he represses his emotions and feelings that therefore gradually pile up inside him. This eventually results in his daily visits at the bathroom where he all by himself can try to fight all his anger and frustration.

Many of these emotions come from John's relationships with girls. He is convinced that Mary, Margaret and Stephanie all broke up with him because their fathers did not want them to date an Indian boy. The way he is imagining the conversation between the girl and her father shows that he does not expect the father to be totally against other races. According to John the father is doing all that is in his power to appear as understanding and non-racist as possible, when he tells his little girl that he does not want her to date a boy who has a different skin colour.

The teachers consider him as a trophy for the school and as "successfully integrated", and give him special treatment as compensation for the serious history of his people. This means that John never really experiences being treated like a "real person". And it's all based on prejudice.

People have a tendency to either push away what is unknown to them, or embrace it with such great care and special treatment that the only affect it has is to push it farther away, and John becomes the innocent victim of this effect.

The short story describes the details of John's life, and is very objective. It's at no point actually saying that John has a miserable life, but it does give you the hints, and from that you can come to your own conclusion. It does, however, emphasise his Indian heritage and his knowledge of it by telling us how people are making exceptions for him and also how he imagines his mother. "When John imagines his birth, his mother is sometimes Navajo. Other times she is Lakota. Often she is of the same tribe as the last Indian woman he has seen on television." This suggests that John doesn't know much about his mother, or her past. The reason is found further into the story. "John's mother is Navajo or Lakota. She is Apache or Seminole. She is Yakama or Spokane."

I believe that this is a typical way to see Indians in the USA, and the rest of the world for that matter. Indians are Indians. They're the people who used to live on the prairie. They used to fight cowboys. Those stereotypical presentations of Indians are, probably, the most common among Americans. I think the writer of this short story is aware of this fact, and displays and criticizes it through these sentences hidden in the story.

The short-story contains two major issues, integration and being prejudice. It's said that John is successfully integrated, and it's true that he's under education, but on the social and emotional side I doubt he is integrated. When people are acting with prejudice to you, you can't be successfully integrated. And this leads to an important question: What is the best way to integrate a foreigner into a community? Should you tread him as an equal or should you treat him differently in order to lighten the change? This question has been discussed in Denmark for many years and still no one has been able to find the right answer. This short story does not bring up a solution either, but it reminds us of the eternal importance in considering how to treat persons who are different.

In the end we are told that he constantly asks for bathroom passes in school, to sneak out and just sit with his thoughts and frustration with his life, sometimes biting his lips till they bleed. I think that John is a very overbearing person, someone who has accepted his difference from his surroundings, and suffers the consequences. This is a common problem in integration, not only in the USA, but also in the rest of the world. In the end, all that happens to John is that he grows bitter and frustrated. He turns his aggressions towards himself, and ends up as a good example on how integration sometimes works.


Despite the fact that the police had forbidden demonstrations, thousands of demonstrators had appeared to protest against trains and trucks that carried nuclear waste.

The great majority of the demonstrators supported non-violence and seated themselves on the road to hinder the police from making their way. Most of them were easily removed by means of water cannons, while others had to be dragged away by force. The most provocative ones were three young women and a man: they had chained themselves to ropes that were stretched between the trees.

However, the police lost their patience after one and a half hours, and the end of it was that they cut the robes.