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

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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.

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