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

Would you agree that Harper Lee and Alice Walker have created strong, morally stable characters despite the racial and sexual abuse they endure?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Would you agree that Harper Lee and Alice Walker have created strong, morally stable characters despite the racial and sexual abuse they endure? 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and 'The Color Purple' are strong, thought provoking novels that deal with many contemporary issues such as prejudice and discrimination. Prejudice refers to a negative or hostile attitude towards another social group, in this case, racially defined. Discrimination is slightly different in that it involves acting on the initial prejudice. Both novels have strong senses of both of these in the form of racial and sexual abuse. The characters created by Harper Lee and Alice Walker go though many trials and tribulations during 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and 'The Color Purple'. Whatever prejudice they come against, characters such as Celie and Scout Finch stay strong and emerge with their beliefs and morals in tact. The treatment of these key figures is, in places, almost too much for the reader to bear. These characters deserve much gratitude for their immense bravery and strength against those who persecute them. The most obvious form of prejudice in 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is the case of Tom Robinson. He is a black man living in a predominantly white town of Maycomb. He is accused of raping a young white girl called Mayella Ewell. ...read more.

Middle

When Mary Agnes dresses up to visit her uncle to try to get Sofia released from prison, she looks "like she a white woman, only her clothes patch." There is obviously a huge inequality in terms of education. Nettie and Celie go to school but only while they are not needed for domestic activities given to them by their abusive father. As soon a Celie is married, her education stops. We can see here how different this culture is to that in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. The white characters in Lee's book are well educated, especially Atticus who is very keen on his daughter going to school, unlike Celie's father. Most of the characters are not terribly well housed and are segregated from the white population. They have their own separate community with their own cemetery; church and school and have to wait in line in shops until whites are served. It is common for white residents to treat blacks as though they were animals. Incredibly offensive things are said and done to them. When Nettie is going to Africa, a white bystander remarks "Niggers going to Africa... now I have seen everything". There is a parallel with 'To Kill a Mockingbird here' as the black community in Maycomb are treated in much the same way as those in 'The Color Purple'. ...read more.

Conclusion

In 'To Kill a Mockingbird', the prejudice and abuse does not come over as strongly as in 'The Color Purple', but the issue is still prominent. Lee gives a child's perspective on the events. The racial issues are from Scout's point of view. We do not see the effect of prejudice on the characters in this book quite as much because the narrator does not know how it feels to be the victim of such abuse. These two novels show immense changes in the characters. In some cases such as Celie, prejudice makes them stronger, in others it proves too much and Tom looses his life. Those who emerge triumphant deserve much admiration, as it is difficult to emerge morally strong if you have been the victim of terrible abuse. At the beginning of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' Scout is fairly ignorant of the enormity of prejudice in Maycomb. By the end of the novel, she has learnt how harsh humans can be. Both novels have strong morals behind them, not to judge people by the colour of their skin or their lifestyle but by what is inside. The famous quote from Martin Luther King comes into mind: "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character." I think the main characters in both novels have this dream also. ...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)

    Lee reveals prejudice through segregation extremely effectively via the isolation of black people in the courtroom. This is a good example of intolerance in the thirties. On the other hand, there are a few people who treat black people as equals.

  2. How does Harper Lee make use of the trial of Tom Robinson to explore ...

    By taking pity on a white person Tom is breaking a fundamental rule of racial superiority. Bob Ewell is not the only white person who needs black people to look down on. Even Mr Gilmer is so insulting in his attitude to Tom that Dill has to leave the courtroom in tears.

  1. How effectively does Harper Lee convey her ideas about prejudice in her novel To ...

    the woods, the kind like the Ewells down at the dump, and the Negroes.' This is an overview of Maycomb County, with the various different 'strata'. However, these social 'tags' on families are unfair as there are exceptions, a mixture of personalities within families .

  2. To Kill a Mockingbird's Racial Feature

    In the 1800s, a group called the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan were formed by veteran fighters of the Confederate army during the American civil war. This group's name came from the Greek word Kluklos, which means brotherhood. This group was dedicated to protecting the south from 'invaders' or blacks, Jews or gays.

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird Full Summary

    Atticus explains that he has to follow his conscience, no matter what anyone else in the town says. Jem returns. Atticus says that one can't hold a sick old lady responsible for what she says. Jem says that Mrs. Dubose wants him to read out loud to her every afternoon for two hours for a full month.

  2. A Study of Diverse Cultures and Traditions In "To Kill A Mockingbird" By Harper ...

    In 1850, 3,442,264 slaves lived in the slave states. 3,204,077 of them were slaves who had been brought and sold by white men. The fact that they had been brought to America to be slaves gave the white men reason to treat them as inferiors. Negroes at the time were very superstitious.

  1. Show To What Extent You Agree That Racial Prejudice Is Lessening In Maycomb

    He announces ?I ain't had a speck of trouble out of him? which is surprising as not many men at that time would have done something like that and been brave enough and felt so strongly to make a stand.

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

    Jem and Tom Robinson have a similarity which Harper Lee has cleverly added as it connects the two characters who socially shouldn?t mix as one is white and the other black. By doing this Harper Lee prepares us to be appalled by the unfair verdict of the trial because as

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