In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, there are three types of prejudice shown. The three I will be dealing with in this essay are gender prejudice, racial prejudice, and social class prejudice.
Firstly, gender prejudice was shown throughout the book by most folk of Maycomb County. For example, the book shows Scout was ridiculed by the Finch family because of her lack of being lady-like, and because she was a girl she was expected to act and wear lady-like clothing. (79) For further proof, in To Kill a Mockingbird the men of Maycomb talk of how women should not participate in the court system because this may cause a confrontation with some crazy convict. (221) I think that gender prejudice is an important topic of the book because the girls in the examples above are being restricted from things that society doesn’t want them to do and they can’t do anything about it.
Secondly, in the book racial prejudice is dealt with on a daily basis, and is distinctly brought upon Negros. To illustrate, in the book people of Maycomb show racial prejudice when they take the word of a smelly, no good, dirty whit woman over a sweet, good, wholesome Negro. (186) To further illustrate, in the book the blacks are sat on the upper balcony so the whites can have a clear view of the courtroom. (164) To clear things up, in Maycomb County, it was hell being a Negro.
Lastly, the third prejudice talked about in the book is social class prejudice. For instance, in the book the people of Maycomb frown upon the Ewell family because of their lack of taking baths and brushing of teeth. (226) For a further instance, social class prejudice was brought to my attention when I saw that the Negros of Maycomb county were forced to pay for their own church because they were not allowed in the white man’s church. (120) To clear it up, being at low social status results in being looked at different and suffering harsh treatment.
Thus, because Maycomb County shows social class, racial, and gender prejudices, that is one reason you should be glad you didn’t grow up in the 1930s. To end on that note in To Kill a Mockingbird there are three types of prejudices shown.
To Kill a Mockingbird is narrated from the viewpoint of Scout, a young girl of about six years old who is the daughter of another central character, Atticus Finch. Atticus is the voice of justice and rationalism speaking out in a town full of highly emotional and ignorantly prejudiced people. A lawyer, the integrity of Atticus never wavers throughout To Kill a Mockingbird as we are shown one of the few figures who truly holds justice and moral beliefs above the prejudices of society.
To Kill a Mockingbird Themes – The Mockingbird
The main themes of To Kill a Mockingbird are illustrated through two major subplots running parallel throughout the novel. One of the major themes in the novel is the mockingbird motif. Atticus feels that it is wrong to kill a mockingbird because all they do is sing beautiful songs and never harm anyone. This theme is illustrated through the trial of Tom Robinson.
A black man, Tom Robinson is accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman. In this subplot, the racial prejudice nature of Maycomb is clearly portrayed through such instances as the fact that Atticus is accused by the town of being a “nigger lover” for defending Tom’s case and also through the lynch mob scene outside the jail. It is in the Tom Robinson trial that the greatest example of injustice because of prejudice is seen. Although Atticus actually manages to prove the innocence of Tom Robinson, the white jury still refuses to declare the innocence of a black man over a white resulting in the most blatant testimony to the fact that the town of Maycomb held racial discrimination above justice. Through its decision, the town essentially kills a mockingbird. Tom Robinson was a man who did no harm to others but instead actually helped others out of kindness – a mockingbird who becomes victim to a racist society.
To Kill a Mockingbird Themes – Another Man’s Shoes
The second motif again concerns the nature of prejudice and is illustrated through the subplot of Boo Radley. Atticus tells his children that we never really know a man until we stand in his shoes and walk around in them. This theme is represented through Boo Radley, a man surrounded by mystery and rumours and hence prejudices. It is this prejudice that initially consumes Scout at the beginning of To Kill a Mockingbird as she imagines Boo to be some kind of monster. However, Boo’s kindness towards the children ultimately prevails and he even ends up saving their lives towards the end of the novel. In the end Scout even comes to accept Boo as a friend despite her original prejudice. This goes to show that we have no right to judge others since we cannot fully understand their viewpoint.
To Kill a Mockingbird Themes – Conclusion
To Kill a Mockingbird is narrated entirely through the eyes of Scout who is initially a typically prejudiced Maycomb child who is quick to turn to fighting and force as a solution to conflicts. However, through such scenes as the lynch mob outside the jail where Scout disperses the entire mob simply by talking to them rather than by force and also through the Boo Radley subplot we see her mature and progress to become a rational and wiser character. This progression is essentially brought about by Atticus and shows that views and beliefs are ultimately passed on from parents and so through the right upbringing and teaching, children can overcome the prejudices held by society. For if a child such as Scout living in a 1930’s society can learn to overcome such deeply held prejudices and come to understand the individual worth of a person then surely people living in today’s society can too.
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