To Kill a Mocking Bird - Prejudice

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To Kill a Mocking Bird Speech

We all know, don’t we, that one of the issues in To Kill a Mocking Bird is racial prejudice – but what about social prejudice? How does Harper Lee add to our understanding of prejudice through the character of Boo Radley? How do we gain information about Boo through the  language and eyes of Scout and Jem? How does Lee’s language show us that Scout and Jem are both fearful yet enthralled by the nature of Boo?  

As we know, Jem and Scout feared the Radley House. Told to stay well away from the house, “inhabited by an unknown entity”, they would walk on the other side of the road when passing. This is the first key incident, that Lee is able depict the strong prejudices through the character Boo. This is, as, few “had ever seen him”, but still ready “to discard the initial suspicions”. Calpurnia even commented on Boo’s ways, “there goes the meanest man God ever blew breath into”, proving to all of us the social prejudice in Maycomb.

Lee is also able to increase our perspective of prejudice, by the use of epigrammatic style, “I tried with him. I fell sick”, and descriptive language, “Radley lives in a ‘gray house’ (he is a) ‘ghost’ in the sense that the children don’t know him - fear and prejudice surround the home. This shows how the language shapes the meaning.”

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Another incident shows Scout and Jem, finding presents in the “oaks of the Radley place”. They felt it “was some kids hiding place” but for all they knew, it was Boo – showing us the niceties and unneeded hate against him. Lee has placed this prejudice ‘in a perspective allowing us to see it as an aspect of a larger thing; something that arises from fear and lack of knowledge’.

As you know, another key incident happens when Scout, Jem and Dill sneak up to the Radley place, hoping to see Boo. This is the beginning of them climbing “into his ...

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