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Prejudice in Americanah and The Scarlet Letter Alexandria Ross 12th Grade


Bias or alienation is almost always a style, whether a prominent one or a small one, within a work of literature. Art is about the human condition, and the human condition only significant because of struggle; a blessed life does not make a story. The novels Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne both check out the style of prejudice. Americanah does so with a direct approach, utilizing the lead character’s blog to specifically explore the bias of bigotry in America. The Scarlet Letter does so subtly, by providing Hester, the oppressed character, a simple and accepting nature, which arouses the compassion of the audience. Nevertheless, while both novels use different strengths when attending to bias, they share some of the same methods of refuting bias. In the novels Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, both authors use irony and character development to oppose the barriers of prejudice: racism in Americanah and intolerance of fornication in The Scarlet Letter.

Both novels use paradox to expose the defective logic behind the kinds of prejudice. In Americanah, Ifemelu’s blog site discusses the wariness of immigrant Africans in being associated with the basic African-American neighborhood: “confess – you say ‘I’m not black’ only since you understand black is at the bottom of America’s race ladder. And you want none of that” (Adichie 273). The irony is that people with darker skin see the way others with the exact same appearance are treated, therefore sub-consciously decline the identity to avoid being treated with bias. The “black” identity is instantly acknowledged as one to be avoided, as society has declined it. The presence of this repulsion with being associated based on skin color is frustrating proof of the ridiculous discrimination based off of look. Adichie intentionally shows this concept to inform the readers of the authenticity of bigotry in America.

In The Scarlet Letter, there is paradox in the treatment of Hester, who is a publically announced fornicator in a Puritan community. Hester treats all those around her with compassion, and declines any self-indulgence. Nevertheless, the community refuses to acknowledge her compassion because of the bad stigma surrounding ‘sexual immorality’: “Every gesture, every word, and even the silence of those who she came in contact … expressed, that she was gotten rid of, and as much alone as if she inhabited another sphere” (Hawthorne 277). Even “The bad … whom she sought out to be the things of her bounty, frequently reviled the hand that was extended forth to succor them” (Hawthorne 278). She is completely separated and suffers extreme embarrassment continuously due to the fact that the Puritan community works on a system of hierarchy and supremacy, as Hawthorne silently argues with poignant situational paradox.

Additionally, both books utilize character advancement to reflect a development of character, in regards to acknowledging and getting rid of bias. In Americanah, Ifemelu goes over the social duties of being “black” in America, discussing: “When you watch television and hear that a ‘racist slur’ was used, you should right away end up being offended … Although you would like to have the ability to choose on your own how offended to be, or whether to be upset at all, you need to nonetheless be very upset” (Adichie 274). Ifemelu shows an understanding of the racial tensions in America, and although she might miss out on the particular significance of racist activity, she recognizes it is her responsibility as a fellow black American to turn down any of such activity. This is in contrast to her previous lack of knowledge in regards to racial slurs, in the event which Ifemelu does not understand why the woman in the shop refuses to explain the store girl as “black”. Throughout her experience and education of American culture, Ifemelu grows more knowledgeable about the level of sensitivity of race, therefore growing as a character. In The Scarlet Letter, the Puritan community eventually forgets its bitterness towards Hester, and “in the lapse of the toilsome, thoughtful, and self-devoted years that made up Hester’s life, the scarlet letter stopped to be a stigma which drew in the world’s reject and bitterness, and became a type of something to be sorrowed over, and looked upon with awe, yet with reverence too” (Hawthorne 281). While this is not due to the fact that the community has a change of viewpoint concerning the unforgiveable sin of fornication, it reveals a softening of heart and a recognition of generosity on the part of the community. Hawthorne reveals the primary step towards moving prejudice: a change in heart.

Though taken from noticeably various ages, Americanah and The Scarlet Letter both efficiently argue against the illogic of prejudice. Books, by nature, are created to eliminate the readers from their own predisposition and allow them to see a various perspective. Making the most of this, the 2 authors reveal the reader that a discriminative society is not hopeless, as a broadening of point of view allows the development of a neighborhood.

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