Prejudice In To Kill A Mocking Bird
Essay, Research Paper
To kill a Mocking Bird could be considered a reliable and unexaggerated portrait of southern American´s prejudice because the author Harper Lee based Maycomb the setting for the book and the character Atticus. On the real place and people. Monroeville and Harper Lee´s farther who was a lawyer. Monroeville was also Harper Lee´s hometown and this gave her reasons to know the socity as deeply as she does. The people of Monroeville and other places in the South America recognised themselves and the part that they played in the society in the book, this illustrates the connection between the society in the 1930 and the fictional narrative.
Having the book so accurate, the author can then hit the reader with more impact and can express her views on prejudice and discrimination with stronger force and more focus. The book investigates many types of prejudice. One is the hatred and fear towards the blacks and the violence between them that could break out at any time, for example the lynch mob. The lynch mob were a group of men that threatened to take the law in their own hands and got together to kill Tom Robinson before his trial. It shows the underground violence that surfaces before the rape case starts. It also shows how the lynch mob feel powerful in a group, because they are able to hide behind someone else. Scout doesn´t understand what their intentions are and sees a face in the crowd and names him. ‘Hey, Mr Cunningham´ she says singling him out from the group. Mr Cunningham realises this and is put in the spotlight and can´t hide behind anyone. He also realises that an innocent little girl has caught him in action. This puts pressure on Mr Cunningham and makes in take in to account for his actions. This is an effective way to combat this type of prejudice, Scout manages to disarm Mr Cunningham, and he has to rethink his actions. There are many types of prejudice and they all subtly revolve around the Tom Robinson rape case. For example; when scout meets Mr Dolphus Raymound during the trial she becomes aware that he is a victim of prejudice and that he has become an outcast. This is because he lives his life with a black woman, this is thought to be wrong in society in Maycomb. One of the effects of this is that he pretends to be drunk. Another is that his children are also victims of prejudice as they are mix race they don´t fit in with the blacks or whites, because of all this they live in the isolated out-skirts of Maycomb far away from anyone. This also means that Dolphus Raymound does not have to face any of his peers. This shows how cowardly his character is. However, it is the way he tackles with the racism. The ladies of Maycomb also show prejudice towards individuals. Mrs Merriweather for instance never questions her actions, or what she says. For example, Mrs Merriweather insults Atticus as a misguided person. When she says ‘I tell you there are some good but misguided people in this town.´ She later goes on to say, ‘Folks in this town who think they are doing right, I mean. Now to far be it for me to say who,´ This show Mrs Merriweather´s character and how two faced she is. When Mrs Merriweather insults Atticus in front of Scout, it shows how self-content she is.
Miss Maudie combats this prejudice by stopping her sharp and showing her up in front of the other ladies to realise what she has just said. Miss Maudie says ‘His food doesn´t stick going down, does it.´ This reveals Mrs Merriweather´s victim as Atticus. Miss Maudie is open-minded and sticks up for Atticus as she feels that he is doing the right thing. The rape plot shows the prejudice between the characters. The author subtly shapes the many varieties of prejudices in to the different characters of the town.
As of the prejudice there is a clear segregation between the types of people and this is shown through out the book, as the black people are portrayed as servants or workers. The blacks live in their own part of town and have their own church to worship at. When Scout and Jem go to worship there it is frowned upon by Aunt Alexander. The segregation is shown here when scout and Jem arrive at the church as the crowds´ part to let them through first. The blacks are also segregated in the courtroom as they sit in the balcony further away from the court scene. It portrays to the reader how the prejudice is clearly shown in society. This is how it would have been in southern America in the 1930´s.
When Scout asks if she may visit Calpurnia, her Aunt rules it out with out an explanation but by saying ‘You may not´. This implies that Aunt Alexandra is prejudice towards Calpurnia and that her shortness and the tone that she projects to the reader suggests this. There is also gender prejudice in ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird´, for example Scout has to wear a dress to school and has to be accompany the ladies of Maycomb for their weekly gathering. However, Jem does not have to accompany them. The appearance of females is one particular view that Harper Lee projected to me as the reader. This is because the women all have the same nail varnish and all have well kept appearances. The females are all very feminine and stereotypical and never question their roles. Prejudice is spread out and you cannot escape it, it is all around you, and you would always be a victim of some kind of prejudice.
Boo Radley could see the segregation of the people of Maycomb and the prejudice. He there for shut himself away trying to escape it. I know this because of when Jem says ‘I think I know why Boo Radley´s stayed shut up in the house all this time…its because he wants to stay inside.´ This proves to me that he chose to stay inside and hide. This is just one explanation of why Boo Radley shut himself away. Another idea was that his father punished him a restricted him to stay in the house. I think however, it is the first idea that the author tried to portray to the reader. By doing this Boo became one of the outsiders and was still a victim of the prejudice, as he was different. This is also clear with Dolphus Raymond he didn´t hate the blacks but didn´t have the courage to own up to his believes and therefor pretended to be drunk as to fit in more with the community. Few could escape some sort of prejudice in the 1930´s and the book shows this by showing prejudices even towards Atticus. His children are teased at school and the ladies of Maycomb gossip about him behind his back as quoted before.
In writing this book, the author investigates not only the types of prejudice but also the causes and the consequences of it. One of the many causes of prejudice Harper Lee illustrates in the book is that humans need a scapegoat, something to blame their actions on. Tom Robinson being accused of rape by the Ewels shows this in the book. When Mayella regretted kissing Tom, she needed to blame some one for her actions. She was not the brave enough to face up to the consequences of her actions. This illustrated in Atticus´s speech in the courtroom. ‘She did something every child has done – she tried to put the evidence of her offence away from her´ Atticus says to the courtroom. He says this implying that Mayella wouldn´t except what she did and turned her guilt around on to Tom. Making out that it was Tom´s fault not hers, she had to pass it on. One other reason for prejudice is the fear and insecurity of crossing the barrier of tradition in to the unknown. It is easy to follow the crowd like with the lynch mob to stand up for what you believe in takes more courage.
The consequences and the effects described in the book include segregation of the blacks and whites. They have different schools, churches, and they sit in the gallery in the courthouse further away from the court scene itself.
Blacks are also stereotyped through out the book as aggressive this just an example of the stereotypical blacks. However, the separation between the two types of people is clear and would be clear in the 1930´s. The book tries to deal with how to combat prejudice: It shows how an individual´s actions like Atticus and Mrs Maudie can make more of a difference and through this Scout learns how to cope with it her self. The book is an education in prejudice, Scout and Jem start with not recognising prejudice at the beginning of the book and then learning about prejudiced people in community that they live in. They the learn how to deal with and occasionally combat it for example, when Miss Maudie and scout manage to deflect criticism away from Atticus and pay Mrs Merriwether back at the missionary tea. The book also teaches the reader empathy by showing how Scout and Jem are taught it. Atticus through out the book teaches it to his children and says ‘you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them´ this is what Atticus imply to his children, it is a good moral to live by. The book also educates the reader as well as showing the children being educated. The reader has to stop and rethink back to the beginning of the book when Jem´s arm broke to understand the connections of how in community of Maycomb could be so narrow minded and how someone could attack another´s children. The reader also reconsiders why Boo Radley never wanted to come out, giving you a different perspective to wards the book and the inhabitants of Maycomb.
By writing the book, the author raises awareness of the prejudice that is in Southern America.