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A study of prejudice in Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.

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Introduction

A Study of Prejudice in Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mockingbird' There are many different types of prejudice in Harper Lee's 'To Kill A Mockingbird'. Social prejudice and prejudice against those who do not conform to normal society all play a part in the novel. The biggest prejudice in the novel, however, is racial prejudice. This is perhaps the basis of 'To Kill A Mockingbird', and most of novel centres on this point. Harper Lee's inclusion of racial prejudice in the novel is not unexpected. Born in Monroeville, Alabama in 1926 she lived in state teemed with racism. Alabama was a state on the south side of the United States of America. During the American war of independence, the south side of the U.S. fought the north. The north believed that the black slave trade that existed at that time should be abolished, and that all the slaves should be emancipated. The south side, however, believed that the slave trade should be allowed to continue. The south dependent on the slave trade as it was the best form of cheap labour available. ...read more.

Middle

Blacks and whites are totally segregated. As described in the book, they go to different churches to worship and no one is welcome in each other's church as shown in the encounter with Lula- a black woman who did not want Jem and Scout into the black church, purely because they were white. She said, "You ain't got no business bringin' white chillun here- they got their church, we got our'n." Racial prejudice is something grown into the roots of Maycomb society. As soon as Atticus decides to take up the case of defending Tom Robinson people in Maycomb encounter him with mass verbal attacks. Strangely enough, most of these attacks, though directed to Atticus, are said to his children. Two examples of this are when Scout's cousin Francis calls Atticus a 'nigger lover', and when their neighbour Mrs. Dubose regularly shouts abuse to Jem and Scout about their father. Another prejudice found in 'To Kill A Mockingbird' is that of social prejudice. This is prejudice against people because of their particular status. This is to do with the caste system- the system of upper, middle and lower classes. ...read more.

Conclusion

Another person who suffers from this sort of prejudice is Mr. Dolphus Raymond. He is a white man married to a black woman who chooses to live around the black people. He is cast down as a low life for this and is only later discovered to be a quite wise man by the children after the trial of Tom Robinson. Perhaps the most significant victim of this kind of prejudice is Atticus. Atticus is very different from every adult in Maycomb for many reasons. Firstly, he treated Calpurnia, the cook, as his equal and allowed her to act as the main mother figure in the Finch residence. Treating a Negro as your equal was unheard of in Alabama- as was shown in the trial of Tom Robinson. Secondly, Atticus raises his children in the most unorthodox manner. He allows them to call him by his first name. Finally, Atticus seems more tolerant than most adults. This is because he practices the theory of 'putting the shoe on the other foot'. This is what he does when he defends Tom Robinson. For this he receives much criticism and is much insulted. One thing that links all of these forms of prejudice together I the symbol of the mockingbird. ...read more.

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