• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

A Study of Prejudice in ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ By Harper Lee

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

A Study of Prejudice in 'To Kill A Mockingbird' By Harper Lee There is a variety of prejudice in the novel, however it all stems back to the mockingbird motif. Chapter ten is the first mention of the mockingbird. Atticus tells the children 'it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.' Atticus is aware the children will shoot birds with their new air rifles, although he would rather they didn't. He instructs them not to kill mockingbirds because they are symbols of innocence and harmlessness. They are symbols of innocence and harmlessness, just as Tom Robinson was, when he was shot. The mockingbird also symbolises a world, which is free from fear or evil, just like the world in which Tom Robinson and Boo Radley sought to live in. The reference to mockingbirds in chapter twenty-four focuses our attention on Tom Robinson as the central 'mockingbird' figure. Tom is presented as an innocent, good character. Not only does he not do any harm, he demonstrates positive virtues of kindness, compassion, and generosity. Tom's life and actions are a natural, spontaneous expression of his humanity and decency just as the mockingbird sings its heart out naturally. As people thoughtlessly slaughtered Tom, they too slaughtered the mockingbird. ...read more.

Middle

His tone there was a contrast to the relaxed way he began his speech and the intensity in which he built up at the end. When Heck Tate was called to stand, he mentioned some very significant things, which proved Tom was innocent, and that the jury were extremely racist. He claimed to have found Mayella Ewell 'lying on the floor,' with a black right eye. 'She was bunged up on that side of her face...' she also had finger marks all around her throat. Tom couldn't have raped her, because his left arm is 'withered.' Harper lee created a dramatic effect by revealing his arm at that moment. Atticus's deeply held belief is that 'all men are created equal.' He believes that this is undeniably true in the court of law. The operation of law, doesn't always lead to justice being done. As long as people are swayed and conditioned by prejudice, they will come to unjust decisions and verdicts. This was shown when Tom's verdict was announced. There is a Caste system in Maycomb. The Ewells are seen as 'trash' and are the lowest of the low. ...read more.

Conclusion

The children came to understand Boo Radley. An understanding that was most touchingly conveyed at the end of the novel, when Scout literally stood in the position from which Boo had watched them, and saw events as he would have seen them. They learnt the truth about Dolphus Raymond and understood why he maintained his pretence of being a drunkard. The idea of standing in another person's shoes helped them to understand why the lynch mob turned away when Scout spoke to Mr. Cunningham, and why Bob Ewell wanted revenge. Understanding other people was linked with the books main image of the mockingbird. Tom Robinson and Boo Radley were seen as mockingbird figures. They did no harm, but were persecuted and damaged by ignorance and prejudice. Harper Lee's attack on prejudice runs throughout the novel. Part of her technique is to lead us to respect the black community. An additional part of her technique is to lead people away from their prejudice views by allowing them to step into another person's shoes before judging them. No matter how inferior the person or people are, she tries her hardest to bring out the fact that everyone is equal. The legal system should have been better in the 1930's but what moreover the hearts and minds of everyone needed to be changed first. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Harper Lee section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Harper Lee essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Examine the different kinds of prejudice and injustice which you have found in 'To ...

    4 star(s)

    a group before they have reason to think that, whereas, injustice is where someone, undeservedly, treats a person or group in a certain way because of a preconceived idea. Boo Radley has suffered injustice all his life. His parents have kept him imprisoned for a mistake of his youth.

  2. To Kill A Mockingbird Imagery and Symbolism

    For example, although Scout hates school enough to pretend being ill, Atticus continually urges her on through the tedious school years. "I told Atticus I didn't feel well and didn't think I'd go to school any more if it was all right with him, you never went to school and

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird (Chapter summaries).

    One night when Dill is over there is a large group of men outside on their front yard. They have come to see Atticus about Tom Robinson the man he is defending. Heck Tate wants to move him from Maycomb jail to the county jail but Atticus said that surely Tate could keep him one more day till the trial.

  2. To Kill A Mockingbird Full Summary

    As soon as it's gone, the three children run as fast as they can back home, but Jem loses his pants in the gate. As they run, they hear a shotgun sound somewhere behind them. When they return, Mr. Radley is standing inside his gate, and Atticus is there with various neighbors.

  1. “Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear ...

    Stephanie Crawford (a neighbour of the Finch family) would tell the children about him poisoning pecan nuts in the schoolyard, and eating cats and squirrels raw. These rumours sparked off one of the main themes in the book; prejudice. Not only for people who look different, but also against those who act differently.

  2. To Kill a Mockingbird Lit Review

    Scout, I think I'm beginning to understand something. I think I'm beginning to understand why Boo Radley's stayed shut up in the house all this time...it's because he wants to stay inside."(240) This quote shows that Jem is maturing and his thoughts are become less infantile.

  1. Compare and contrast how the role of childhood is presented in the novels To ...

    Scout reminises: "I could not remember when the lines above Atticus's moving finger separated into words, but I had stared at them all the evenings in my memory ...when I crawled into his lap every night." (To Kill a Mocking Bird, P.19/20)

  2. The Presentation of Women in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

    At the beginning of the novel, Scout is an innocent, good-hearted 5 year old, who has had hardly any experience with the big, wide world and by the end of the book, though she is still only a young child, her perspective on life progresses from the innocent child, to a near grown up.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work