How are Prejudice and Hypocrisy explored in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird? Notes and Essay

Authors Avatar by ecfireboygmailcom (student)
  • These women are criticising African culture, as describing it “Sin and Squalor”
  • They see that anything not Christian is barbaric.
  • Moral Blindness, they are planning to fix things out in Africa, but do not realise the effect on Tom Robinson’s death on Helen. They try to sort things out thousands of miles away but do not think about sorting things out in their own town first.
  • Claims that her maid Sophy is “Complaining”. She calls her “Sulky Darky”.
  • Gertrude, I tell you there's nothing more distracting than a sulky darky. Their mouths go down to here. Just ruins your day to have one of 'em in the kitchen. You know what I said to my Sophy, Gertrude? I said, 'Sophy,' I said, 'you simply are not being a Christian today. Jesus Christ never went around grumbling and complaining,' and you know, it did her good. She took her eyes off that floor and said, 'Nome, Miz Merriweather, Jesus never went around grumblin'.' I tell you, Gertrude, you never ought to let an opportunity go by to witness for the Lord."
  • She treats Sophy very badly. Anyways, what was Sophie complaining about?
  • “God created everyone equal” Racial discrimination in Maycomb contradicts this. Christian teaching that there is no social status and hierarchy. White population is using the Black community to do dirty jobs, and treats them as lower class citizens.
  • “Love thy neighbour”
  • HELEN ROBINSON is a good Christian, she deserves financial support for a widowed parent and fatherless children. These Christian missionaries do not see this.
  • “Most devout woman in Maycomb”
  • Her first name is “Grace” she does not understand the concept of grace according to the bible.
  • ESPOUSES great emotional ignorance, moral blindness.


  • “Blue in the face” No hope for Blacks to be a good Christian.
  • Cannot be educated.
  • “No woman is safe in their bed” Every black man is like Tom Robinson, very dangerous citizens of the community, ironically, he didn’t even commit such crime.
  • “My Sophie” like ownership and belonging, “Wool” sound slike hair is like sheep, like an animal.
  • She keeps Sophie because she is too important. Won’t admit that Sophie is important. She says Sophie is “Depressed”. Atticus proudly admits that the house and family would not survive without Calpurnia.
  • “His food doesn’t stick going down, does it?” Referring to Atticus. This is about Calpurnia. You’re quite lucky to enjoy Calpurnia’s cooking and Atticus’ increadient. yet you they are criticising. They are hypocrites, rude, no manners, don’t criticise him, no gratitude. Don’t be so rude on black people in a house where people respects them so much. “Calpurnia cooked it?” Does not believe that a black servant can cook so we;;/ “Stick”, the food was ,ade well that it wouldn’t stick.
  • “Born hypocrites, People up there set em free” The divide between north and south. Mrs Merriweather accuses the north of telling the blacks free from slavery. This is a real problem, because even now, she still treats black people like slaves so the thinks that.
  • “she just fell down in the dirt. Just fell down in the dirt, like a giant with a big foot just came along and stepped on her: Just ump” Similar to Scout and the Roly-Poly, Tom Robinson. This symoblises the strength of the White Community and the weakness of the Black Community.
  • “Maycomb was interested by the news of Tom’s death for perhaps two days” Prejudice in the white Community. They do not value the life of a black person, treats it as  unimportant. However, for Helen Robinson, his family and the Black Community, its like a life sentence.
  • “To Maycomb, Tom’s death was typical. Typical for a nigger to cut and run. Typical of a nigger’s mentality to have no plan, no thought for the future, just run blind as fast as he saw.” This is a very racist comment. Deeply unfair and untrue. Stereotyping an entire race. Assuming that the black community is reckless. Ironically, Tom Robinson lived a clean and upright life, like a Mockingbird. Also, Tom Robinson had absolutely no choice, he was fighting for his life, he could not wait for an appeal, it was his best chance to break free.
  • “Easy come, easy go, Just shows you, that Robinson was legally married, they say he kept himself clean, went to church and all that, but when it comes down the line the veneer’s mighty thin. Nigger always come out in ‘em.” To Mrs Merriweather, veneers means on the surface, it seems that they are good Christians, but what she is saying is that inside them, they are mean and nasty.
  • “Mr Underwood didn’t talk about miscarriages of justice, he was writing so children would understand.” Mr Underwood writes to children so that the future generation would understand, there is no way to change the stubborn minds of the current generation, he gives more hope and faith in the young generation.
  • “Tom’s death to the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters” He is trying the shame the whole community. People understand this, but don’t take them seriously.
  • “Atticus had used every tool available to free men to save Tom Robinson, but in the secret courts of men’s hearts Atticus had no case. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed.” Deep down inside them, they have already made a decision. It seems that there is justice, a court trial. Although Mr Underwood is racist, he still sees the injustice and shame of the community.
  • “Tom Robinson’s existence was ever brought to their attention” Sad, just a black person.
  • “Washing the feeble minded?” In fact, wash means getting rid of the Jews.
  • “Over here we don’t believe in persecuting anybody. Persecution comes from people who are prejudiced.” “There are no better people in the world than the Jews, and why Hitler doesn’t think so is a mystery to me” As Miss Gates continues criticising Hitler’s of social injustice and unfairness in Nazi Germany, meanwhile, in Maycomb, the Black Community is being treated unfairly. As Miss Gates say that there are Equal Rights for everyone, she does not see that there are segregation and different coloured schools in Maycomb. No better people than the black community, who are such obedient citizens of Maycomb and serve well. Without the black community existing in Maycomb, the white community simply wouldn’t survive. They contribute to the economy and are good Christians. As Atticus had said earlier in the novel “Without Calpurnia, our house simply wouldn’t survive.”
  • “An inquiring soul  in the middle of the room said, ‘Why don’t they like the Jews, you reckon, Miss Gates?’”
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How are prejudice and hypocrisy explored in Harper Lee’s to kill a Mockingbird

  • Tom Robinson. Court Case. The Jury.
  • "I am not. ’t's morbid, watching a poor devil on trial for his life. Look at all those folks, it's like a Roman carnival." Although Tom Robinson’s trial seems like a major moment for civil rights in Maycomb, the white men perceive this as a ‘Gladiator’ fight, where men were put into an arena and confront lions, gladiator and other gruesome methods. Tom Robinson is the gladiator, fighting for his life with no change of survival.
  • The ...

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