Contextual Anaylsis

Topics: Native Americans in the United States, Stereotype, Race and Ethnicity Pages: 5 (1741 words) Published: February 27, 2014
Breanna Lameman
English 101A
TC Tolbert
November 17, 2013

Racial Stereotyping
Stereotypes are a big problem in our society. Most stereotypes tend to convey negative impressions towards a certain ethnic group. Furthermore, people tend to judge a group based on their assumptions or experiences. It can also cause a misconception of how people are and how they live in other cultures, religions and countries. On the subject of this, in the film Smoke Signals directed by Sherman Alexie two Native American men making a journey out of their reservation to gather the belongings and ashes of one of their father’s stuff. At the end of this film portrays the nature of Native Americans stereotypes and also brainwashes people into believing Native Americans are always angry and stupid. Smoke Signals effectively exposes the non-native audience to Native American perspectives and life experiences through everyday life. Likewise, Chimamanda Adiche conveys the idea of stereotyping people make in her story, “The Danger of the Single Story”, in which she uses her personal stories and experiences to illustrate “The Danger of a Single Story”(Adichie) people tend to believe based on assumptions and inferences. In Adiche speech, she conveys the idea Native Americans have been severely stereotyped in the United States and then leads to false misjudgments. Thus, Smoke Signals is a humorous and meaningful film that challenges the “single story” of Native Americans as savages, alcoholics, and uneducated.

“The Danger of a Single Story”(Adichie) in the same context of Smoke Signals portrays “the Single Story”(Adichie) of Native Americans to be brutal, violent, and ignorant from another perspective of how Native Americans should act like. It can also be said Native Americans can be uncivilized because of the way they act in public or the way they dress. In other words, Native Americans have been misrepresented for years. Through Adiche speech, she explains her experience in believing a “Single Story”(Adichie) about Mexico. The “Single Story”(Adichie) about Mexico is people sneaking across the boarder and being arrested at the border was what everyone had assumed Mexico was like. Once Chimamanda Adiche had found out on her own of how Mexico is really like, she knew that Mexico is like any other place and not as what people had said. With regards to Smoke Signals, the two Native American characters Victor and Thomas stop at a gas station because Victor is teaching Thomas, who is a nerdy native and has a smile as bright as the sun, about acting like a real Native. He tells Thomas in a strong voice “Keep stoic. You gotta look mean or people won't respect you. You gotta look like a warrior!” (Smoke Signals). Victor is trying to instill Thomas to look and act mean or people will not respect you. From Victor’s choice of words, he tries to seem scary or intimating to get the people around him to be frightening. While getting back on the bus, two other men take their seats and don’t let them have their seats back, even though Thomas and Victor act tough and stand up for what’s right. Despite not getting their seats back and standing up for themselves, Native Americans are not savages or violent. They tried to act tough but really they were standing up for what they believed is wrongful doing and they are not afraid to face any challenges or danger. By that they are said to be savages or uncivilized because they don’t follow as plan or go against something that they believe is right just like what had happen in the scene on the bus, where they tried to get their seats back. All above Smoke Signals, reinforces the “Signal Story”(Adichie) of how Native Americans are savages and fierce by like by using the characters to show everyone how a real Native should be like such as going against someone but really they just voice out their opinions. Many people tend to perceive that all Native Americans are...

Cited: Adichie, Chimamanda. “The Danger of a Single Story” Ted Talks, October 2009, 15 November 2013.
Alexie, Sherman. Smoke Signals. Netflix, 1998 June 26,13 November 2013.
Grobman, Gary M. “Stereotypes and Prejudices” The Holocaust, Copywrite 1990, 16 November 2013.
Wikipedia. “Native American Mascot Controversy” 22 November 2013, 16 November 2013
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