The Idea of Overcoming Stereotypes in Superman and Me by Sherman Alexie

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About this sample


Words: 1020 |

Pages: 2|

6 min read

Published: May 14, 2021

Words: 1020|Pages: 2|6 min read

Published: May 14, 2021

‘Superman and Me’ by Sherman Alexie is an autobiographical essay which portrays the author’s journey of learning to read and becoming a successful writer. Throughout the text, the author discusses the stigma Indians faced. This stigma being that Indians were unable to perform to Western standards. Alexie uses his experience growing up as a Spokane Indian on the Reservations to communicate the main idea of the text to the reader. The main idea in the text is to show the reader that they can overcome stereotypes. Alexie shows the reader that a reservation born Indian can become a successful writer instead of conforming to peer pressure allowing stereotypes to define you. We see this through personal anecdotes, his family values, a shift in narrative, and Superman as a metaphor. Alexie uses a personal anecdote to depict life on the reservations. Indians on the reservation were subject to a specific type of poverty. The reservations being an enclosed world that sat on the margins of society. This shows that mainstream society was not particularly amicable towards Indians. Therefore, Indians were forced to sit on the outskirts of society looking in. Alexie wants the reader to understand the socio-economic status of the reservations. To understand how this stereotype is enforced on Indians. The reservations were generally a lower standard of living compared to mainstream society. This meant that access to educational resources was limited. Indians were unable to afford the same educational resources as mainstream society. They were also excluded from certain areas of mainstream society, for example, libraries. The author mainly purchased his resources from secondhand stores. Alexie is showing the reader that despite barriers of limited resources, it is still possible to overcome stereotypes that we face.

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Alexie draws on his family values to show his concern for the wider community. Alexie discusses his father attending “Catholic school on purpose” (Alexie, 1998, p.1). This is an important point in the text as Catholic schools were a place of abuse for aboriginals, especially Indians when his father would have attended. Hence, there was a lot of reluctance from Indians to attend school. Due to his father putting himself through such torture of school, we see that his father valued education. Alexie would have had this determination to gain an education in comparison to other Indians as his father saw education as an important part of life. The reader can understand that for other Indians, they might not have this push at home because education was associated with abuse for many of their parents. Alexie is attempting to share his concerns for those other Indian children who do not have this push at home. Alexie is acknowledging that without his father’s push, overcoming this stereotype may have been a lot harder. Alexie makes a calculated shift from the first person to the third person during the fifth paragraph. To make the transition from Alexie’s struggle to a struggle that is seen at the societal level. To do this, Alexie discusses Indian children being able to read advanced books such as “Grapes of Wrath” while at kindergarten (Alexie, 1998). Alexie discusses how if this was a Western child they would be praised for their ability and seen as a genius. However, because this was an Indian child, instead they were called odd. This shows the reader that Indians did not just face barriers of poverty but also the limited school system. Indians were in a school system that indirectly put them down and held the expectation that Indians would not amount to anything. Alexie uses this shift from the first person to the third person to show the reader that this stereotype is not just faced by him but is an issue faced by the community. Alexie also wants to encourage anybody feeling condemned to stereotypes to not let them define what they become

Alexie uses superman as a metaphor throughout the text. This is because Superman comics are usually about the origin. Alexie uses Superman for his own origin story. A young Indian boy growing up on the reservations and overcoming the stereotype he faced. Superman was seen as a role model to Alexie as he was someone who broke down barriers and did not let anything define him. Just like Superman, Alexie breaks down the stereotype and shows that Indians can become successful. We then see in the text that Alexie becomes the Superman for other children as he goes and teaches them to write. He shows some of these Indian children that they can break down these barriers and become successful. He shows children that stereotypes do not define what you can become. Alexie uses Superman as a metaphor to show how he responds to stereotypes and shows that Indians are capable of success. Alexie becomes Superman for other children advocating for a change in society’s world view. Alexie’s is calling for change and arguing that backgrounds should not be what we base our judgments on. Alexie does this because he does not want children to be subject to what he went through. Alexie is successful in his central idea reaching his audience. This is because the reader can easily relate to the text due to it being a personal anecdote. Alexie makes the successful transition from the text recounting his struggle to a struggle that is seen at a societal level. This shows the reader that stereotypes are something many communities in society face. Many communities face these barriers that attempt to hold them back in society. Alexie wanted to show that despite these barriers, communities face. Stereotypes can be overcome.

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In conclusion, Alexie draws on his personal experience to communicate to the reader that stereotypes can be overcome. Alexie uses personal anecdotes, his family values, a shift in narrative, and Superman as a metaphor to show the reader that stereotypes do not define who you are and what you can become. Alexie argues that he does not believe individuals should be judged based on their background. This is important to discuss as communities and individuals face stereotypes daily. Alexie wants to encourage readers to break down any barriers they may face.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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The Idea Of Overcoming Stereotypes In Superman And Me By Sherman Alexie. (2021, May 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 25, 2024, from
“The Idea Of Overcoming Stereotypes In Superman And Me By Sherman Alexie.” GradesFixer, 14 May 2021,
The Idea Of Overcoming Stereotypes In Superman And Me By Sherman Alexie. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 May 2024].
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