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To Kill A Mockingbird Essay On Prejudice

In today’s society men, women and children experience prejudice in their lives, either as victims themselves or being guilty of using prejudice towards others due to differences between them. Prejudice is a preconception of a person based on stereotypes without real facts and discrimination based on gender, age and skin colour. In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee isolates characters and depicts ways prejudice is used. She also demonstrates the evils of prejudice and the negative consequences that lie in the city of Maycomb. By taking the reader, step by step, through various real-life situations, and analyzing the impact of prejudice on people’s lives, she manages to go to the root of the problem in attempting to eliminate prejudice.

In To Kill a mockingbird, Lee depicts the ways in how prejudice is demonstrated based on discrimination by gender, age and skin colour. These different types of prejudice are illustrated in the book and show how awful it is to judge others on these grounds. All men and women are created equal and have the same rights. Prejudice against gender lurks in the city of Maycomb. Mrs. Maudie experiences this unfairness in the novel due to the fact that she is a woman. “Miss Maudie can’t be on a jury because she’s a woman” (Lee 221) is a fact that cannot be contradicted in Maycomb County. The prejudice is against women. Townsmen think that women are frail and emotional so they will not be able to witness such intense trials. It takes a man to be on a jury, which is a common belief by most of the townspeople. This belief should be eliminated because this is not true at all!

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If a woman wants to be on a jury and meets all the qualifications required then she deserves a spot in the jury box and let her be there. Some women are less emotional than men and women do offer valuable insights and views about people. Men and women should have equal opportunities and should have the same rights. It is not the only adult that commits prejudice. Harper Lee shows us that children at a young age can also innocently follow the footsteps of the wicked, make poor judgements and stereotype others. Dill, Scout and Jem all assume that Boo is crazy and that he eats squirrels based on the fact that he doesn’t come out of his house. “When people’s azaleas froze it was because he had breathed on them” (Lee 9) is an example of a stereotype towards Boo by the kids. Another example is illustrated by the absurd ideas conjured by the children about Boo Radley. They believed that Boo attacked his father.

“Boo drove the scissors into his parent’s leg, pulled them out, wiped them on his pants, and resumed his activities.” (Lee 11). The novel illustrates that it is wrong to prejudge people in this way even if it is children who are discriminating against others. In the end, after prejudice is unveiled, Boo Radley is portrayed as a silent hero. Discriminating people due to their race is another type of prejudice that is demonstrated in the book To Kill a Mockingbird. Tom Robinson, a black man, is stereotyped and put down by some of the townspeople who see coloured people as weak and useless humans. However, the reader knows that it is wrong to treat people like that and the reader feels pity for Tom. This pity cannot be felt by the creators of prejudice unless they change their real values and beliefs.

“Guilty…guilty…guilty…guilty…guilty…” (Lee 211) is a quote that depicts how Tom is being discriminated against.  It is quite obvious that Tom is innocent but due to the racism and hatred towards blacks, he was convicted nonetheless. This act is engraved in the reader’s mind throughout the entire book, this injustice infuriates the mind and this lingers throughout the novel and truly shows the prejudice that exists in this corrupted town. Causes of prejudice are all based on the differences of humans whether it’s on gender, age and skin colour. Lee has demonstrated how prejudice is used and how an innocent person’s life can be changed due to evil assumptions made on that person. Prejudice leads to many consequences. In the book To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee shows us how the evils of prejudice impact the lives of innocent people such as Atticus Finch and Tom Robinson.

Atticus Finch, the most famous lawyer in Maycomb County, is a highly respected and honoured individual in the community who becomes a victim of prejudice. Atticus, a white man is defending Tom Robinson, a black man. This is quite peculiar because in Maycomb County, blacks and whites are separated and whites usually despise coloured folks. Atticus suffers many vigorous consequences from some of the townspeople. “Mr. Bob Ewell stopped Atticus on the post office corner, spat in his face, and told him he’d get him if it took the rest of his life.” (Lee 217) Mr. Ewell spat in Atticus’s face, a disgusting and offensive thing to do. In the reader’s mind, one thinks of what a cruel demeaning act this is. Why do such a thing just because a white man is defending a black man for a good cause? There is no point in behaving that way. Not only did Mr. Ewell spit on Atticus’ face but he claimed he will seek revenge as long as he lives.

As the residents of Maycomb were informed of how Atticus was dedicated to freeing Tom Robinson, they lost respect for him and started bad-mouthing him and calling him a “nigger-lover”. A simple act of prejudice like that can have such an impact on people. The penalty that Atticus suffered for this great courageous act of kindness, emanating from the bottom of his heart, resulted in a fierce act of hatred from ignorant residents in the County. Atticus was a very strong ambassador of peace and justice, stood on his ground, retained his faith in equality for all and didn’t let any of the bad gossips going around town affect him in any way.

“Tom’s dead…seventeen bullet holes in him.” (Lee 235) An innocent man is killed, seventeen bullet holes…what an outrage! The worst possible outcome of prejudice, DEATH! The most severe ultimate consequence of prejudice, that no man should expect to succumb to, one that should not occur but unfortunately did! The reader knows that Tom is innocent and his unfair futile death touches everyone to the very bottom of the heart. There is no reason for lives to be lost so innocently due to prejudice. Lee convinces the reader to fully dedicate oneself to strive against this injustice and eliminate it from the face of the earth. Prejudice can have deadly consequences and people’s lives can be profoundly changed because of it as it was for the families of Atticus Finch and for Tom Robinson. Harper Lee wrote the book To Kill a Mockingbird in a way that exposes readers to all kinds of prejudice, and then she leads them to the root of the problem and teaches them how prejudice is eliminated in the small town of Maycomb County.

Atticus is a lawyer and he is the main character in the novel who is trying to eliminate prejudice. “The assumption – the evil assumption – that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral beings, that all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women, an assumption one associate with minds of their calibre.” (Lee 204) This saying was firmly articulated by Atticus to all the jury during the trial. The reader already knows that the jury is in favour of white people who in this case would be the Ewells. What Atticus is trying to do is to convince the jury that all men are created equal and that they should not discriminate against people who are different. In other words, Atticus is doing his best in eliminating the prejudice that lies in the hearts of the members of the jury.

Miss Maudie is another character in the novel who believes in inequality. “I have no reason with the court this morning”(Lee 159) would be a saying that people would say if they indeed knew that the trial was unfair and that they were disgusted by all the prejudice. The reader now ponders that more and more characters are being freed from the evils of prejudice and that the residents have begun to understand the wrongfulness of prejudice. This is a sign to the reader that more characters are eventually going to switch over to the good side and that is exactly what happens. Jem and Scout are both children with developing minds and we cannot give them 100% guilt for being a little prejudiced towards others especially when they are living in a prejudiced country. Nevertheless, the children also manage to overcome prejudice.

“We never put back into the tree what we took out of it; we had given him nothing, and it made me sad.” (Lee 278) The children realized the wrongfulness of assuming that Boo Radley was crazy. Scout now realizes that Boo is a human just like anyone else and should be treated equally. “It is a sin to kill a mockingbird” is a lesson that Scout has learned from her dad. She realized that Boo was represented by a mockingbird and she was the so-called hunter. Now Scout has grown up and matured and she followed after the footsteps of her dad and managed to get rid of the evil assumptions towards Boo Radley. Harper Lee through the portrayal of these major characters has shown us how they realized that prejudice in Maycomb County existed and how they all managed to isolate prejudice from their lives and eliminate it in an understanding manner.

Prejudice is an evil assumption made about a person due to differences in age, gender, and race. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, through the portrayal of various characters, depicts the uses, causes and negative consequences of prejudice. Lee strips the book right down to the bare wire and exposes the problems of prejudice and measures taken by the characters to eliminate the evils of prejudice. “You’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it – whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash…don’t fool yourselves – it’s all adding up and one of these days we’re going to pay the bill for it.” (Lee 220-221). Prejudice is atrocious and one must strive to eliminate it at all cost from the face of this world in order to achieve real freedom, justice and peace!

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