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What does To Kill a Mockingbird tell us about prejudice in Maycomb in the 1930's?

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Introduction

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD ESSAY What does To Kill a Mockingbird tell us about prejudice in Maycomb in the 1930's? The prominent theme of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird is the portrait of prejudice, in a small southern American town called Maycomb in the 1930's. Maycomb is believed to be a replica, of the town Monroeville where the author Harper Lee grew up. Her knowledge of the society in Monroeville (Maycomb) enables her to hit the reader with more impact; she can portray her views on prejudice and discrimination with stronger force and focus. She gives a realistic representation of people's attitudes in the Deep South in the 1930's. Slavery had been abolished in America after the civil war of 1861-5 this gave black people equal rights. But their freedom made life harder for black people initially, white people (especially in the south), found it hard to accept them as an equal in their society, so they remained segregated. This is shown in the novel, the black community has its own part of the town, on the outskirts, near the town dump. Also they have their own church, First Purchase African M.E. Church paid for from the first earnings from freed slaves. 'Negroes worshipped in it on Sundays and white men gambled in it on weekdays', this shows blatant disrespect for the black community. ...read more.

Middle

They faced a vicious lynch mob. All but one of the men was given death sentences by an all white jury, but after several retrials only some were actually sentenced to death. Years later they all were discovered to be innocent. The novel explores many types of prejudice; most is directed at the black community, but also women and any new and different ideas or any individuals who are not seen to conform. This is small town mentality. Maycomb is an inward town that follows its own traditions and has its own caste system. To kill a Mockingbird is told in the first-person narrative by Atticus's five-year-old daughter nicknamed Scout; all events are seen through her innocent eyes. She is not yet aware of the prejudice that surrounds her, which is apparent when Jem is informing Scout, that he thinks 'there's four kinds of folks in the world'. 1. The Finches and their neighbours (middle class white) 2. The Cunninghams (who represented the poor farming communities) 3. The Ewells (lowest class white people) 4. The black community Scout relies 'naw, Jem, I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.' This innocent viewpoint is quite effective, enabling the reader to see things through her eyes, therefore we can realise how people are blinded by prejudice and that this can lead to injustice. Aunt Alexandra comes to stay she wants to teach Scout to become a real Southern belle, which, Scout opposes, she doesn't approve ...read more.

Conclusion

The men are expected to be chivalrous as women were to be worshipped and protected, which is why the alleged rape is treated with such severity in Maycomb. But they were still regarded as unequal to men. This is shown when Atticus tells Jem 'Miss Maudie can't serve on a jury because she's a woman'. To Kill a Mockingbird, clearly portrays Maycomb as a town that is riddled with prejudice, there is almost nobody that isn't affected by it in some way. The town fears the unknown and they constantly try to keep hold of their traditions, but they don't leave any room for people to better themselves, once you are categorised that's how you are looked on. People know their place and their family history dictates what they do. If your black your not to be trusted, if you're a farmer you are considered poor and a lower class of people. If you live your life differently in any way you are looked on as a lesser person. Harper Lee tries to show the reader, we can all learn to combat prejudice if we follow Atticus's maxim. That if you attempt to stand in another's shoes or skin, you can learn to understand them, which will lead to tolerance and hopefully no prejudice. The title To Kill a Mockingbird sends a powerful message that is echoed throughout the book that 'it's a sin to kill a mockingbird', which is a symbol of innocence. ?? ?? ?? ?? I By Shirley Murnane ...read more.

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