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How is racial tension and prejudice portrayed in “To Kill A Mocking Bird”

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Introduction

How is racial tension and prejudice portrayed in "To Kill A Mocking Bird" "To Kill A Mocking Bird" was published 1960, just four years after the start of The American Civil Rights Movement. Many people found the book shocking, as it was written by a white woman who was openly opposed to the way black people were treated. The book is primarily about the way we treat those who are different to us, not only in race but in lifestyle, such as Boo Radley and Mr Dolphus Raymond, who are considered outcasts because they choose to live their lives differently. It also discusses why society is so wrong, with references to the American Civil War and the Slave Trade. It implies that society indoctrinates children into being discriminative by pointing out that when people are treated unfairly "only the children weep". The book is very persuasive due to Lee's implications about society. She never directly attacks it but still manages to change the way the reader sees aspects of society and consider his own prejudices. ...read more.

Middle

The author cleverly uses the children's visit to the church as an insight into how the black community regards the white community. When they arrive some people greet them respectfully and others greet them with hostility. This shows the hatred that some of black people have for the white people and how they feel they are treated unfairly. This hatred stems from the disrespect with which they are treated; they are given jobs that no one else wants, such as garbage collectors; they are expected to stand for white people to sit, like in the courthouse and their church is treated with no respect, "Negroes worshipped in it on Sundays and white men gambled in it on weekdays". The black community understandably found this incredibly insulting and as there was nothing they could do about it, their hatred and resentment for the white community grew, leading to stronger separation. On a wider scale the separation stemmed from the slave trade during which white people considered black people as animals or machinery, therefore, when they were freed and given their own rights in 1865 it was difficult for white communities to accept their black members. ...read more.

Conclusion

After Tom's trial Scout and Jem both think no one opposes the verdict, however throughout the novel they discover more people who do, such as Judge Taylor who purposefully gave Atticus the case, and Aunt Alexandra who is upset by Tom's death. It is obvious that Lee's intention for this book was to change the racist ideas she discusses. I think she achieved this because it is difficult, as a reader not to look at how one treats others and question ones own morality. Although it was clearly relevant to the changing society of the 1960's, it is still relevant today because, however much we try to deny it society will always be unfairly prejudiced against a particular group of people. The novel also makes the reader question how we teach children to treat others and pass our prejudices onto the next generation. I think that "To Kill A Mockingbird" has changed and will continue change the way we look at other people, for the better and therefore I consider it a timeless classic. ?? ?? ?? ?? Sophie Duder 2001-10-17 ...read more.

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