Prejudice in Mr. Sumarsono Written by Roxana Robinson

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Background

Stereotype is a largely false belief, or set of belief, concerning the characteristics of the members of a racial or ethnic group (McLemore, 1983). Stereotype may be positive or negative in mind which is based on limited and minimal knowledge about a group of people. Incomplete information, mistaken perceptions, isolation and segregation have resulted many stereotypes. Viewing of a person with oddity based on the stereotype will limit what we expected and how we respond to them.

Prejudice is an unfavorable attitude towards people because they are members of a particular racial or ethnic group. Discrimination is unfavorable action towards people because they are members of a particular racial or ethnic group. (McLemore, 1983). These both are negative manifestations of integrative power. A prejudiced person may not act on their attitude.  Therefore, someone can be prejudice towards a certain group but not discriminate against them.  Also, prejudice includes all three components of an attitude (affective, behavioral and affective), whereas discrimination just involves behavior and involves some actions.

Prejudice and stereotyping parallels attitudes and opinions or beliefs (Stroebe & Insko, 1989) Prejudice also sustains stereotype, while stereotype is a generalization or interpretation toward a person or group of some physical, behavior, belief or other factors.

For a 10-year-old girl, she must have got a first bad impression to a stranger, especially a foreigner. She spontaneously thought that someone newbie in another country is a kind of alien with different skin, face structure or another physical body. In that point, this attitude includes a racial stereotype which provokes a prejudice side.

Roxana Robinson is a biographer and scholar of nineteenth and early twentieth century American art. She graduated from Buckingham Friends School, in Lahaska, and from The Shipley School, in Bryn Mawr. She attended Bennington College and studied with Bernard Malamud and Howard Nemerov. She received a B.A. degree in English Literature from the University of Michigan. Roxana Robinson is the author of the four novels Cost, (2008) Sweetwater,  (2003) This Is My Daughter, (1998) and Summer Light (1988); the three short story collections A Perfect Stranger, (2005) Asking for Love, (1996) A Glimpse of Scarlet, (1991) and the biography Georgia O’Keeffe: A Life, (1989). Mr. Sumarsono is listed as one of the best American Short Stories at 1994.

Statement of Problems:

1. Why do Susan and her sister give bad impression toward Mr. Sumarsono?

2. Why did Mrs. Riordan welcome Mr. Sumarsono warmly?

3. What is the cultural aspect of this short story? What is the connection with it?

Discussion

Mr. Sumarsono is a worker in UN which involved many Western people in it for a long time. Because of the environment, he tried to adapt the style like an American. According to the story, both daughters of Mrs. Riordan, Susan and Kate, with Mrs. Riordan herself fetched Mr. Sumarsono in a Trenton Station in New Jersey and they saw him for the first time with bad impression and underestimate toward Mr. Sumarsono. However, at that time, he was clothed as an American businessman.

“Mr. Sumarsono was wearing an neat suit and leather shoes, like an American businessman, but he didn’t look like an American. The suit was brown, not gray, and it had a slight sheen. And Mr. Sumarsono was built in a different way from Americans: he was slight and graceful, with narrow shoulders and an absence of strut.” (Page 265 line 1)

“Kate and I stood next to my mother as she waved and smiled. Kate and I did not wave and smile……” (Page 265 line 11)

In this case, it proved that both sisters didn’t like and give bad thought for Mr. Sumarsono because they didn’t know who actually Mr. Sumarsono was, since Mr. Sumarsono had an Asian figure with pale brown...
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