Jasmine, a vivacious, starry-eyed, young Indian woman from Trinidad who believes that Trinidad is too small for a girl with ambition, has herself smuggled into the United States to find a well-employed husband and forge a new life. She enters Detroit from the Canadian border while hidden in the back of a mattress truck. With her daddy’s admonition that opportunity comes only once resounding in her ears, she challenges herself to use her wits and to refashion her destiny.
Being an illegal alien, Jasmine spends her first few months working as a chambermaid and bookkeeper, in exchange for meager board and lodging, at the Plantation Motel in Southfield, run by the Daboos, a family of Trinidadian Indians who helped her get there. Conscious of her social status as a physician’s daughter in Port-of-Spain, she feels superior to the Daboos, thinking of them as country bumpkins who were nobodies back home. She decides to leave them soon.
The central action of the story begins when Loretta and Viola, the Daboo girls, prevail on Jasmine to go with them to Ann Arbor to the big bash of the West Indian Students’ Association. The music, the dance, and the company of boys who talked with confidence about their futures in the United States stir her desires and ambition, and she decides not to return to the life of drudgery at the Plantation Motel. Instead, she thinks of trying her luck in pursuing higher studies in Ann Arbor, which seems to her the magic...
(The entire section is 543 words.)