• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What has Harper Lee got to say about prejudice/labelling and what techniques does she use to present these themes? (Part 1)

Extracts from this document...


What has Harper Lee got to say about prejudice/labelling and what techniques does she use to present these themes? (Part 1) In To Kill a Mockingbird, there is a lot of prejudice and labelling, and this is the main theme that the book is based around. We learn a lot from this, as it gives an insight to racism in history in America, and we also learn that a lot of people can be biased due to this. This in the end leads to people being outsiders, because they are not seen by their fellow neighbours as fit to be part of Maycomb. In this essay I shall explore this theme in more detail. The story is set in the 1930s, hence the common use of the word "nigger". This is a convenient way to highlight the racism of various characters in the book. Usually, when she refers to African-Americans, Harper Lee uses the term "coloured", but it is not only racist whites who use the word "nigger", as Calpurnia also calls Lula this at the First Purchase Church. ...read more.


Atticus lives in a racist and sexist society, but shares neither prejudice. He respects people of colour; he gives Calpurnia complete discretion in running his house, and defends her when Aunt Alexandra says "something something" (page something). We admire him for this, but as we realise throughout the book, his neighbours outcast him for this, but we admire him even more when he stands up for his own opinion, and appears not to care. Harper Lee shows us a variety of outcast or "different" people in Maycomb county. The first most obvious one is Boo Radley, the misfit who is misunderstood. This reminds me of other stories with a familiar character: Beauty and the Beast, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Edward Scissorhands or Babe. Boo Radley is seen by other people not as a person, but more as a thing to be feared. The adults' fears and feelings towards Boo are shown in a more obvious and conspicuous way when Jem, Dill and Scout play games and do things that show they are curious about him. ...read more.


In Maycomb, there is a hierarchy, with the Finches near the top, and the townspeople below them. Then towards the bottom are the Cunninghams, and finally the Ewells. But the black community is below the Ewells, and this is why Bob Ewell makes up for his lack of importance when he persecutes Tom Robinson later on in the book. Overall, prejudice and labelling is not really as pointed in Part 1 of the book as it is in Part 2, especially during the persecution of Tom Robinson and when the reader is introduced to Mr Dolphus Raymond, we are given more insight into the outcasts of Maycomb. But in Part 1, we are shown how the people in Maycomb were very prejudiced against not only black people, but also outsiders, as they did not conform to what was "normal", and in the book there are many outsiders in the book whom the reader sympathises with. In Part 1, we learn (especially from Boo Radley) that however strange, mysterious or different a person might be, they always have some good in them, and they are still human, and should be treated equally. ?? ?? ?? ?? Sally 10G ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Harper Lee section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Harper Lee essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Examine the different kinds of prejudice and injustice which you have found in 'To ...

    4 star(s)

    We are introduced to the characters as we first meet them but we cannot yet identify with them. The novel is set over four years so we grow with the individuals and can sympathize with them as we form a rapport.

  2. To Kill A Mockingbird Full Summary

    School is hard for the Finch children: their peers are generally somewhat cold toward them, as if their parents had instructed them to be civil but not outwardly friendly. One day Scout's class gets into a discussion about Hitler and the persecution of the Jews.

  1. To Kill A Mocking Bird : Harper Lee - A chapter analysis.

    That evening the children hear Atticus enter the house and they know they're in deep trouble. Atticus disciplines Jem for killing the camellias by requiring him to read to Mrs. Dubose everyday after school for a month. Scout accompanies Jem on his first trip to Mrs.

  2. How does Harper Lee use language and symbolism to represent the prejudice and narrow-mindedness ...

    wrote in an editorial that he "simply figured it was a sin to kill cripples, be they standing, sitting, or escaping. He likened Tom's death to the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children". The parallel between killing a mockingbird and killing a cripple man, Tom, is apparent here.

  1. How does Harper Lee portray a racist society in Part 1 of To Kill ...

    Because part 1 is mainly spent on setting the scene and introducing characters, the story of racism and discrimination is not yet brought out. The racism element is slowly brought across in a 'drip drip' style. Harper Lee merely indicates that race was an issue people faced in America at that time.

  2. How does Harper Lee explore the themes of empathy and tolerance in Chapter 3 ...

    themselves, where they are not treated the same as others, which further emphasizes the remarkable attitude of Calpurnia to teach Scout values that she does not often receive from others. It also emphasizes the firm discipline and morals that Calpurnia employs on Scout, portraying her as more than just a

  1. How does Harper Lee prepare us in chapter 1 for what is to come ...

    provides explanations to the neighbours attitudes towards Scout, her brother and her father Atticus as the Finch family is well respected in Maycomb. Scout describes her brothers healed left arm as ?somewhat shorter than his right? illustrating that even after mending it wasn?t perfect.

  2. How does Harper Lee use details in the passage to show the reader ...

    However there is a sudden change in the tone of the chapter, ?a time of vague optimism? contradicts the depressive style of the previous description of Maycomb, making the reader wonder how life in this seemingly awful town could possibly lead to optimism.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work