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Discuss the different kinds of prejudice in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. What are the consequences of this prejudice?

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Introduction

Coursework To Kill a Mockingbird Discuss the different kinds of prejudice in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. What are the consequences of this prejudice? To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, was written in the 1960s, but the story is set in the 1930s. The novel is also set in a small town called Maycomb in Alabama, and Scout Finch, a six-year-old child, born and raised in the town, narrates the story. Historical Context is very important to the book, as it supports the whole structure of the themes and the community itself. The Civil War and the abolition of slavery are examples of the Historical Context that are important to the novel. The War was fought between the southern states and the northern states of America between 1861 and 1865. The southern states (such as Alabama) used black slaves for many of their economic needs, such as agricultural work. But the northern states were opposed to this; therefore a great Civil War was fought between the North and South of America. When the Southern States were defeated in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery. But although this new act was passed, people in the states of the Deep South still opposed the black citizens, and believed they were inferior to white. They still clung on to their old values and traditions; prejudice became a very big issue in these parts of America. As 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is set in the early 1930s, many people had a vivid memory of the Civil War, and therefore still rejected the idea that black people were equal to white. ...read more.

Middle

The Maycomb community feels that a coloured person does not have any self-dignity but would rather escape his problems than face up to the consequences. This stereotyped judgement, again underlines the racial ideas of the county. Another section of the community subjected to prejudice are women. There are many sexist ideas throuought the novel, which conveys the attitudes of the community towards women and their role in society. Women in Maycomb are expected to conform to traditional ideas about southern femininity. An example of a male's point of view at the time was that a woman's place was in the kitchen: Calpurnia tells Scout to 'come into the kitchen', which shows us this stereotyped view of women. These sexist ideas are supported by the whole community; especially by Aunt Alexandra and other women in the book, who constantly talk about the importance of being a woman and keeping their lady-like appearances. Scout is deeply affected by the sexism in the community, because her Aunt explains to her the importance of acting 'like a woman' and threatens her by saying 'you do want to grow up to be a woman don't you?' There is evidence of Scout's disapproval of the sexism in the community in the 14th chapter, when Aunt Alexandra tells Atticus that Scout should start acting like a young woman, as Scout says: 'I felt the starched walls of a pink cotton penitentirary closing in on me'. Scout uses the metaphor of a prison for womanhood, which shows us that she compares being a woman to imprisonment. ...read more.

Conclusion

This leads to the conclusion, that in Atticus's eyes, the Radleys are not bad people. This also causes a lot of tension, because of the different views expressed about the Radleys. There are many different consequences to the prejudice in the Maycomb community. The racial prejudice leads to a death of a young coloured man. Tom Robinson is put on trial and found guilty of a crime he did not commit because of the colour of his skin and the community's attitudes towards the black community. The class division among the society is also partly to blame for his death, as it led a poor family, considered 'trash', by the county to kill an innocent man. The Ewells are downtrodden by the community and are made to feel inferior; therefore looking down on Tom Robinson makes them feel wanted by the society. Prejudice against class, also causes division and hatred within the town of Maycomb, and outsiders are made to feel unwelcome by the society. Sexism also has many consequences in Maycomb. Women are made to feel shallow and with no ambition, for example Mayella Ewell. She has no friends and has no hope for herself or her family, and feels that she has no future, therefore is led to seduce a coloured person; an action considered unforgivable by the community. Scout is also affected by this prejudice against woman, and she finds the 'men's world' far more attractive and appealing. Prejudice, in many shapes and forms are evident in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. They have far reaching consequences that are brought to life through the vivid portrayal of the various characters in the novel. ...read more.

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