Fear Of Stereotypes In Alice Walker's The Welcome Table

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Labels are the root of all evil. As a society, people learn from birth that every person on Earth gets a label -- whether it’s black, white, male, female, rich, poor, and hundreds of others. These labels often come with stereotypes attached. When people come in contact with labels other than their own, it often instills fear of the differences created by these stereotypes. Alice Walker’s short story, “The Welcome Table,” highlights societal alienation when the women in a predominantly white church immediately look down on the main character, an old woman, because of her race and aged appearance. The labels the white women affix to the old woman display the church women’s closed-minded cultural morals and values, which result in them deliberately or subconsciously alienating the woman from the congregation because of their fear of the stereotypes they feel she represents, and their ignorance of the differing experiences and values the woman embodies.
Society’s fear of stereotypes is brought on by the labels people irrationally attach to each other and cause people to repel those with dissimilar labels. The white women in the church gape at the old woman with a “fear of the black” and “the old” (Walker 1). They demonstrate their outright fear of the woman by immediately judging her based on her appearance. They observe her from a distance and see her color and age, and instantly assume that she is someone, or something, to fear. Many other attendees of the church are reminded

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