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Prepared by: Patricia Johnson , as "True to type?"
Posted on: 17 Jun 2001
Reposted on: 7 Jul 2002
Reposted on: 22 Jun 2003
Reposted on: 24 Apr 2005
Reposted, Revised on: 30 Jul 2006
In 400 words or less, write a story in which a character is presented
in a stereotypical way. As the story unfolds, show that the stereotype
inaccurate in this case by revealing to the reader the character's true
People naturally categorize things and events in their minds. This
mental organization serves a purpose. Knowing that flashing lights
mean danger and that mushrooms with veils on the stems are usually
us make good decisions.
When applied to people, categorizing is called stereotyping. A
stereotype is a widely held and oversimplified image or idea of a
particular type of person.
Stereotyping involves fitting people into broad categories--often
religious, or educational--where individuality is replaced with fixed
ideas and generalizations.
Many stereotypes are negative; they lead to assumptions and
misconceptions that are unfair and untrue. Stereotypical beliefs
lead to mistrust, dislike
or suspicion, and sometimes to enmity toward a person toward a person
People can also hold positive stereotypical beliefs that lead them to
trust someone based on status or position. That trust may be broken if
proves to be false.
A good example of a negatively stereotyped character is Boo Radley in
the novel To Kill a Mockingbird.
Both Scout and her brother have an unfair idea
of Boo based on appearance and gossip. His true nature is revealed when
Scout and becomes a family friend and quiet hero. There are many more
examples in literature.
Exercise: In 400 words or less, write a story in which a character is
presented in a stereotypical way. As the story unfolds, show that the
is inaccurate in this case by revealing to the reader the character's
When critiquing, note the stereotypical belief and how well the writer
has succeeded in showing that in this case it is false.
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Modified by Gayle Surrette.