Everyone is familiar with or has personally encountered a stereotype. Common examples of stereotypes are: Americans are lazy, Irish are miserable drunks, men are messy, and blondes are dumb. People of all races, ages, genders, cultures, professions and any other way that a person could be classified have been targeted and regarded either positively or negatively at some point in their lives. The reality is that there is a stereotype for just about everyone and everything, so that no one is safe from labels. Stereotypes have laid claim to every person as prey and dealt the consequences out with indifference. Labels and false impressions were common to me as an adopted, blonde girl as well as my older adopted Native American brother. Sherman Alexie – Coeur d’Alene Indian, poet, novelist, short-story author, screenwriter, film director, and comedian – expresses his own experiences with stereotypes and his own heroic ability to overcome those constraints in the short story “Superman and Me”. I agree with the idea that Alexie’s story insinuates the misconceptions illustrated by stereotypes can not only become judgments that people use as personal limitations, but also used as inspirations to surpass those expectations.
“Superman and Me” is a short autobiographical story that tells of the author’s love of books at a very early age and the disapproving typecast he received for his love of reading and ambition of education. Alexie describes the passionate fondness his father had for books and reading, and decided as a small child that he wanted that enthusiasm as well. Alexie taught himself to read quickly and was incredibly reading the novel Grapes of Wrath by the time he was five years old. Superman ironically was the comic book that Alexie taught himself to read from. By looking at the comic panels in the Superman comics, Alexie was able discern that:
In one panel, Superman breaks through a door. His suit is red, blue and yellow. The brown door shatters into any pieces. I look at the narrative above the picture. I cannot read the words, but I assume it tells me that “Superman is breaking down the door.” Aloud, I pretend to read the words and say, “Superman is breaking down the door.” Words, dialogue, also float out of Superman’s mouth. Because he is breaking down the door, I assume he says, “I am breaking down the door.” Once again, I pretend to read the words and say aloud, “I am breaking down the door.” In this way, I learned to read. (Alexie 209)