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Discuss the Theme of Outsiders in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

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Introduction

Discuss the Theme of Outsiders in 'To Kill a Mockingbird' Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mockingbird' was written in the 1960s, but set in the 1930s. It was set during the height of the Great Depression, and also where racism within communities in Southern USA was part of every day life. This is addressed within the theme of prejudice within a wider context of issues to do with childhood, a sense of good versus evil, and 'outsiders' are also dealt with in the novel. The book is written through the eyes and imagination of a young girl, and conveys how a na�ve mind develops through experiences of a prejudiced lifestyle. Despite the decline of organizations suck as the KKK, racism was still strong in Southern America. During the story, members of the Maycomb town are pushed out of the community and withdrawn from daily social life, for many different reasons, revealing the prejudices and judgments this small society make. A first example is Arthur "Boo" Radley. From the beginning of the novel it is clearly established that he is an outsider. Scout, the narrator of the story describes him as a 'malevolent phantom' having never seen him in her life. ...read more.

Middle

"Come here, nigger, and bust up this chiffarobe for me, I gotta nickel for you." - Mayella. This shows the superior attitude of white to black people. By calling Tom Robison 'nigger' it gives the sense that whites can find themselves superior. Mayella tempts him with money, suggesting that black people are unable to earn a sufficient and live a lower class life. However, it could be interpreted that Mayella is merely being considerate, as Tom was inferior to her and living in poverty. She would then have been offering money as a kind gesture; however, by her words, "There was several niggers around" she also suggests black people are lower class in general, casting Tom Robinson as an outsider. During the court case, it is clear to the reader that Tom Robinson is an innocent man. However, as he is black, the jury of his trial are naturally biased and treat him as guilty even before hearing his case. This also shows the appalling prejudice black people were frequently subjected to in the 1930s, It is Mayella's own isolation that is the result of Tom's conviction. ...read more.

Conclusion

'"Ah - Miss Caroline." "What is it Jean Louise?" "Miss Caroline, he's a Cunningham."' This isolates the family as a group, distinguishing him from the rest of the class, again casting him as an outsider, showing that one does not have to be alone to be isolated. However, Scout is not prejudiced towards him, again showing the innocence and instinctive justice of the child. In the Novel of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' a number of the characters are pushed out of the community, through prejudice actions or merely they are 'different'. And so 'outsiders' become a key theme, as the community's attitude towards them differs, and in some cases also matures. We can also learn a lot from the book, about the effects of racism and other forms of prejudice. It is important to remember that at the time "To Kill a Mockingbird" was set, the population was not as diverse and many people were ignorant to other races. Harper Lee manipulates the reader's affections is his portrayal of the prejudice each of the isolated characters have faced. Lee's use of racist insults such as "nigger", although more common today, may have shocked a 1960s audience. "To Kill a Mockingbird" is an effective portrayal of life in 1930s South America and the issues arising at the time. ...read more.

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