You believed that everybody in America had a car and a gun. Your uncles and aunts and cousins believer it too. Right after you won the American visa lottery, they told you, “In a month, you will have a big car. Soon, a big house. But don’t buy a gun like those Americans. They trooped into the shantytown house in Lagos, standing beside the nail-studded zinc walls because chairs did not go round, to say good bye in loud voices and tell you with lowered voices what they wanted you to send the”. (First Page, First couple of paragraphs)
Right from the start of the story, we get witness the narrators situation that she was placed in. She had won a lottery and was given a chance to start a life in America with her “uncle”. Her family and relatives all thought that in America, everyone lives a happy and an easy life. You can get a car and a house, and begin living a great life. They also asked the narrator for gifts (probably money, certain clothing brands, or even something bigger). I guess you can say that this was their ideal American Dream. Having a steady income and a bunch of accessories. Sadly that was just an illusion that was shattered by the reality after her arrival to America.
After moving to America, she realized how unfair and hard it was living there. Not even a week had past and her uncle took advantage of her and stated that “Smart women did it all the time, how did you think those women back home n Lagos with well-paying jobs made it ? ” That’s when she realized that “America was give and take” , you give up a lot and you gain a lot from it. The easy life that everyone at home thought she could have was thrown out after a week of her being in America. Nothing in life is gained by sitting around and doing nothing, especially in a country with a tremendous amount of people that are also trying to get by. Due to her race, it was even harder to find a decent job, so she can support herself and those that she left at home.
You can try and compare this text with “Quicksand”. The parts that were familiar was when Helga also defined by her race, was struggling to fit into other communities. This quote state by Dr.Anderson “Lies, injustice, and hypocrisy are a part of every ordinary community. Most people achieve a sort of protective immunity, a kind of callousness, toward them. If they didn’t, they couldn’t endure.” helps us see that no matter what place they went to, people judged them by their looks and race, and not by their personality/behavior. An ordinary person can easily judge someone else without even taking other aspects into consideration. Same goes for both Helga and the narrator from “You in America”, both of them had to somehow bypass all the things others thought of them, and try to find a place to settle down. Near the end, they both found something or someone but that was still far away from their ideal life that they were seeking.