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Examine the nature of prejudice in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. Are there any signs of this prejudice breaking down by the end of the novel?

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Introduction

Examine the nature of prejudice in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. Are there any signs of this prejudice breaking down by the end of the novel? "Scout and Jem Finch's summers drift by in a round of make-believe, fishing and fun with their friend Dill from Meridian. As the years pass and the children grow up in the small community of Finch's Landing, they begin to learn that life is not as straightforward and fair as it seemed through the eyes of their childhood. They discover why Mrs Henry Lafayette Dubose always seems so vicious, the truth about the mysterious and much maligned Boo Radley, and how people react when they are forced to choose between their prejudices and what they know is right." (Prelude). Maycomb is a very close-knit community, although most friendships are within class and race types. All the towns people are familiar with each other, and many are related by birth or marriage. This means that small 'cliques' form, giving rise to the usual rivalry between the different groups. This accentuates the differences in class, race and culture between them. This is one of the many factors making most of its residents racially prejudiced. It is apparent that although there may be some lower class white people, they are never as low as any coloured residents. ...read more.

Middle

She appears shy and fragile in the courtroom, as if scared by something or someone. Maybe it was Atticus, after portraying her father in the way he did, or maybe it was Bob. "Mayella stared at him and burst into tears. She covered her mouth with her hands and sobbed". After her sudden and unexpected outburst, she seems to tell her version of events very clearly, knowing what she is going to say, as if she had been told or recited the words before going to court. Then Atticus asked her a lot of questions which didn't really have anything to do with the court case like "'Did you ever go to school?', and 'How many sisters and brothers have you?'" But we later find out that he is detailing Mayella's background and how she had grown up believing that the black community were below her family. This is another element of racism in the book. When Tom comes to the stand, to tell his side of the case, he proves Atticus right about his left arm being non-functional. "Thomas Robinson reached around, ran his fingers under his left arm and lifted it. He guided his arm to the Bible and his rubber-like left hand sought contact with the black binding. ...read more.

Conclusion

He is just in time to save the children and stabs Bob Ewell before he does any more damage. Boo may feel empathy for the black community, as he has had people being prejudiced towards him, and has had lots of rumours spread about him, all of which were untrue. This demonstrates that Maycomb's rumours can be false or extremely exaggerated, and individuals make up things according to what they think is right, not what they know is right. Heck Tate begins to understand Boo, and realises that he just wants to be left alone. This shows that his prejudiced feelings are not as significant as the feelings of mutual respect towards people in the community who are worth being respected, unlike Bob Ewell. When Scout is summarising the story at the very end of the novel, she explains how most of the ill-feeling towards Boo has gone. Most people are beginning to review their opinions of black people, treating them as people rather that letting skin colour cloud their judgements. Atticus sums this up nicely. '"An' they chased him 'n' never could catch him 'cause they didn't know what he looked like, an' Atticus, when they finally saw him, why he hadn't done any of those things...Atticus, he was real nice....", and Atticus replies by saying "Most people are Scout, when you finally see them".' ...read more.

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Here's what a teacher thought of this essay

4 star(s)

This has the potential to be a very good essay. It is well written and intelligently comments on the prejudice that is clearly depicted throughout the whole novel
At times the essay loses focus on the question. The essay ends abruptly and there is no conclusion leaving the question unanswered and although the essay discusses prejudice in the novel we do not have a clear idea if there is less or more prejudice by the end of the novel.

Marked by teacher Katie Dixon 29/04/2012

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