Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in A Single Story notes that lives of individuals, communities, and cultures are developed from numerous overlapping stories. The author utilizes her personal experience to narrate to the audience the path she took in order to develop an authentic cultural voice. She notes that the extensive exposure she gained as a child to British stories had a critical role on how she viewed her surroundings. She claims that stories have a danger of conveying a single narrative about a community or a group of people.
Adichie notes that the risk of a single narrative about a community is that it results in the development of stereotypical views, which are both false and incomplete. She argues that the dangers associated with a single narrative are that it results in barriers in developing a relationship between the audience and the narrator or author. In addition, it is also evident hat the main concern is power; in that there are numerous stories related to a dominant culture. Single stories usually pose a threat to histories of communities in that they result in the development of stereotypes, which become associated with disempowered communities. She uses an example of her interactions with an American student, who upon reading her texts lamented that all Nigerian men are abusive and violent.
Adichie suggests that there is a need for communities to have different accounts of history such that they are able to avoid the pitfalls associated with single narratives, which are biased and stereotyped. Adichie is particularly conscious of the presence of power conflicts, which play a critical role in determining the nature and types of stories told about communities. She notes that power is not only an ability to convey stories about a given community; rather, it entails the capacity to ensure that a narrative is a definitive story of given community, group or individual. According to the author, stereotypes are complicit in perpetuation of single and unauthentic narratives on experiences, strengths, values, beliefs and weaknesses of communities as they lack diverse perspectives of communities.
In the text In Case You Ever Want to Go Home Again the author, Barbara Kingsolver provides a comparative analysis of physical photographs, which are a representation of how people want to be viewed by society. The author notes that they provide memories which is evidence of how people want to be viewed by others, which is indicative that people usually display images of themselves that are unrealistic and differentiation. Such is driven by the need to be accepted by the rest of the society. The author notes that she has pictures of her hometown, which have been founded on authenticity perspectives aimed at ensuring that she develops a natural relationship with the audience. Her work provokes critical thought on exaggeration of images, which brings forth questions if memories may be embellished in a similar manner.
Kingsolver reflects on the life she had while growing up in a rural Kentucky township, where she was predisposed to adhering to a life determined by her community. She reflects on her school experiences and life with her grandfather who snapped his fake teeth to the dismay of children and grandchildren. In addition, she reflects with dismay over the destruction and replacement of old buildings with new structures and her grandfather’s decision to seek permanent replacements for his teeth. Her dismay is as a result of the knowledge that all old things have changed such as her grandfather, community and school, which played a critical role in developing her character and life experiences.
Like Mexicans, authored by Gary Soto, is driven by the need to dispel the assumption, that race determines the character and values held by individuals. The author, in likeness to Adichie, seeks to dispel the stereotyped view of the Latina community by providing an incisive and new perspective into the social values and structure of communities. The author learns the importance of diversity, which should be protected through narratives to ensure that audiences accrue authentic perspectives about minority communities.
Sherman Alexie’s work The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me claims that being exposed to reading and writing has been critical towards his personal development. He notes that as a Native American and his familial background, he was predisposed to experiences similar to those of other Indians: disenfranchised and poor. The author recalls images of his father as an avid reader, which made him a role model to his young son. Alexie was influenced by his father’s reading habits, such that he collected a wide array of texts that he could not read at a young age.
Sherman Alexie’s work is evidence of the dangers associated with a single narrative related to the history of a given community. As a Native American, Alexie was bound to be confined to a narrative of failure and illiteracy as foretold in a majority of texts. Sherman notes that exposure to written texts enabled him to forge a new reality and history as a Native American young man living in a modern America. Alexie was able to overcome the confines of stereotypical American society, whereby he was expected to fail and remain in a Native American reserve.
Alexie claims that he is similar to the mythical superhero figure, Superman, in that he has been able overcome barriers associated with a stereotyped history for Native American men. The symbolism of superman is elucidated by the author when he notes that, I am breaking down the door. In the way, I learned to read.” Such a statement is suggestive of the potential and capacity of individuals to overcome stereotyped images associated with young Native American men living in reservations across the United States. In addition, the narration provided by Alexie provides critical insights into the need to provide authentic perspectives into the lives of communities as a means of overcoming stereotyped and predetermined histories of communities.
Alexie notes that he has been taught of the importance of quality education by his parents who did not have an opportunity to attend college. Alexie brings forth a number of valuable points in regard to the expectations of native American children who are presumed to be unintelligent in a western and presumably prejudiced society. Acquiring knowledge through reading is considered alien and not encouraged amongst Native American youth living in reservations. Such is indicative of the presence of a “single story” which is founded on an unauthenticated perception of Native American youth.
The views presented by the Alexie can also be extended to other youth in the American society, who are easily confined to stereotyped views of their communities. The author illustrates the importance of resilience in overcoming such biased views of communities by focusing on personal development and growth. The author seeks to demonstrate to disenfranchised youth the power of believing in individual strength to overcome stereotyped views of their communities as well as backgrounds.
The four identified texts, A Single Story, Like Mexicans, In Case You Ever Want to Go Home Again, The Joy of Reading and Writing: Superman and Me provide critical accounts on the importance of ensuring that the history and experiences of communities have different perspectives as a means of eliminating the pitfalls of stereotyped narratives. In addition, the texts are all indicative of ensuring that communities, especially the youth, are empowered with knowledge on the histories of the communities to ensure that they are adequately equipped to determine the type of life they live. Furthermore, the authors excel in developing authentic relationships with their audiences given that their narratives provide unbiased and fresh perspectives into the experiences of minority communities.