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Analyse and Compare the Portrayal of Prejudice In the Novel and the Film ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’.

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Introduction

AMY WOODWARD ANALYSE AND COMPARE THE PORTRAYAL OF PREJUDICE IN THE NOVEL AND THE FILM 'TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD'. To Kill a Mocking Bird is set in the Deep South, Alabama, during the years 1933 -1935. The social context of this period is the theme that pervades this novel and is important and relevant to almost everything that occurs. Farming states of the south were suffering drought and failing crops and there was poverty everywhere due to economic collapse and the great Wall Street crash of 1929. At the beginning of the novel the great social deprivation that followed the crash is seen in the typical lives of the people in the typical town of Maycomb. The capitalist system has failed and many people left destitute, and with failed crops and starvation creeping over the country it was a truly terrible time in rural areas. The Great Depression also heralded great social upheaval creating a restless working class. People lost the security of a settled social hierarchy when everything was thrown into turmoil, and the social structure disintegrated. One of the main characters in the story, Scout, a white girl, describes her small, sleepy town at the height of the Depression: "Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932 when I first knew it. Somehow, it was hotter then. Men's stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. ...read more.

Middle

The Cunninghams are country folks, farmers. The crash hit them the hardest. Throughout the novel the gender prejudice of this era is shown through the relationship between Scout and her older brother Jem. "Scout, I'm telling you for the last time, shut your trap or go home - I declare to the Lord you're getting more like a girl everyday." Jem uses Scout's gender as an insult, almost like blackmail. Prejudice is about irrational contempt and hatred for what someone is and also about the power of one person over another. This is a good example of contempt for the female sex showing itself in children. This language is reflected also in the film but it is doubtful that many viewers in the 1950s, or readers in the 1930s, would even notice such prejudice since it was accepted that that was the way things were. Another important thread in the film concerns Boo Radley, a social outcast along with his family, who inspires fear and around whom the children weave fantasies. Jem: There goes the meanest man that ever took a breath of life. Dill: Why is he the meanest man? Jem: Well, for one thing, he has a boy named Boo that he keeps chained to a bed in the house over yonder...See, he lives over there. Boo only comes out at night when you're asleep and it's pitch-dark. When you wake up at night, you can hear him. ...read more.

Conclusion

WW II not only brought war to America, but also prosperity. Many blacks were eventually involved in the war effort, either internally or externally. But even in the North black assimilation into military ranks was difficult throughout the war. Ironically, they were segregated in order to fight racism in Europe. Although their presence was in segregated units, blacks proved that they were worthy soldiers in battle. When they returned from WWII, they enjoyed a new found respect from their fellow neighbours. The book caught the mood of the moment and it seemed to help whites to understand the situation they had created with blacks in the community. However, in some places the novel was banned and censored because many people felt strongly that blacks had to be kept in their place and that place was subject to whites. However, it made accessible the black experience to many whites - much more than ever before. Black people probably saw more of the moral significance in the story and it might well have influenced many young people to take part in the civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King in the early 1960s. In comparing the film and book and the portrayal of the social prejudices we can see that the film puts greater emphasis on the Civil Rights issues whereas the book is more a personal story against the background of the time, where prejudice and oppression were routine. The film concentrates on the characters that will illustrate to greater effect the prejudices it wants to raise. Despite the difference in emphasis both book and film have become classics. ...read more.

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