The Effect of Stereotypes

In the book of Matthew, the Bible states that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. When a person holds on to stereotypes and resentments towards his fellow man he cannot possibly love them to the degree called for. Both William Faulkner and Mark Twain show their characters struggling to progress past their stereotypes and the consequences of clinging on to them. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and Intruder in the Dust by William Faulkner the authors show that stereotypes often lead to the inability to see the situation as a whole as well as the internal conflict when these stereotypes are questioned.
The stereotypes that a person harbors can often result in the inability to see the "big picture" in a situation. Twain showed this result through the duke and king when they are staying at the Wilk\'s house. The duke and king pose as the brothers of the deceased Harvey Wilk\'s in order to claim the fortune that he left behind. Wilk’s will tells them of a bag of gold in the cellar. When they find the bag, they offer it to the daughters of Harvey Wilk\'s; however, the daughters suggest that the money would be safer in the hands of the duke and king. The duke and king hide the money behind a curtain in their room, but then the duke thinks that they did not hide the money well enough. Huck observes them hiding the money and describes it. "They took and shoved the bag through a rip in the straw tick that was under the feather bed, and crammed it a foot or two amongst the straw and said it was all right, now, because a n_____ only makes up the feather bed, and don\'t turn over the straw tick only about twice a year, and so it warn\'t in no danger of getting stole, now." (Twain 235). The reasoning behind the duke and king\'s action shows the stereotype that they have towards the Negro slaves. They think that a Negro will never do a more than adequate job. Turning over the straw tick represents a job that only a Negro slave would attend to. The duke and king could not see anyone else turning the straw tick in the near future. After the duke and king leave the room, Huck recovers the money and hides it from them. The stereotype that they have prevents them from seeing Huck as a suspect in the theft of the money. The duke shows the result of this stereotype when he says, "It does beat all how neat the n_____s played their hand. They let on to be sorry they was going out of this region!" (Twain 182). The duke thinks the Negroes deceived him. The duke’s stereotype prevented him from blaming anyone else except the Negroes; because the duke thought that the only people who would be around his straw tick would be the Negroes. Ironically, by overlooking Huck, the person closest to them, as the culprit, the duke and king allowed the bulk of the Wilk’s estate to slip through their fingers. This same type of stereotype occurs in Faulkner’s novel when Charlie runs home to tell his uncle the story of Vinson Gowrie’s murder according to Lucas. His uncle, Gavin Stevens, responds to Lucas’ story by saying "That’s exactly what I would claim myself if I were Lucas - or any other Negro murderer for that matter or any ignorant white murderer either for the matter of that," (Faulkner 79). This comment shows how Uncle Gavin stereotyped Lucas’ story as a typical, or even banal alibi. This stereotype prevented Gavin from seeing that Lucas was truly not guilty of the murder. Gavin finally acknowledges that Lucas did not kill Vinson when he answers Charlie’s father’s roar of disapproval of not being informed of the whole situation. "It took an old woman and two children for that, to believe truth for no other reason than that it was truth…" (Faulkner 126). Here, Gavin states for the first time that Lucas did not commit the murder. The stereotype that Gavin had of Lucas’ story made him slow to accept and react on