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According to Oxford Dictionary, stereotype is a preconceived and oversimplified idea of the characteristics which typify a person or situation (Oxford). But in reality it is more like a subtle form of bias, such as those based on people's gender, race or occupation. For example, Americans are generally considered to be arrogant and materialistic while Asians, on the other hand, are expected to be shrewd but reserved. Obviously, not all Americans are arrogant and not all Asians are shrewd. So, if one just assumes what a person is like and don't look at each person as an individual, he or she is likely to make errors in estimates of a person's character. Such biases are easily ignored, yet are a fact of life. These biases can affect how people see others, as well as themselves, which may lead to unexpected consequences. Thus, stereotyping can influence the communication and understanding between people, usually in a negative way. To examine the side effect brought by stereotyping, I will go through Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Duras’ The Lover and analyze the roles played by stereotype. The protagonists of both books are set in a background, to which they do not originally belong or where is colonized by foreign invaders. Therefore, stereotype becomes a mutual theme and plays an important role in these two books.
In The Lover, Duras tells the largely autobiographical story of a fifteen-year-old French girl’s amazing love affair with an older Chinese man in Vietnam, the place colonized by France during the 1930s. “She” was just a young girl attending a boarding school, living with an abnormal family, which had a life poor as beggars and violent as gangsters; “he” is the son of a Chinese millionaire, and settled in the colonies as one of “the financiers of Chinese origin who own all the working-class housing” (Duras 33). They meet each other on the ferry crossing the Mekong and on that day they start an unusual relationship. Such plot sounds like an ordinary love story—“She” is fragile and helpless while “he” is the symbol of power and wealth and has a strong sense of protecting her. They fall in love at the first sight and look forward to their everyday meeting. Then how could “The Lover” become an exception from the general standard love relationship? The phenomenon of cross-racial dating is too superficial to make the story rebellious, but the real consciousness behind the race—which known as stereotype—works.
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"Stereotypes in Things Fall Apart and The Lover." 123HelpMe.com. 02 Apr 2020
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