• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15

Discuss the theme of prejudice in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

Extracts from this document...


Discuss the theme of prejudice in 'To Kill a Mockingbird' To Kill a Mockingbird is an influential American novel written by Harper Lee which deals with the issue of prejudice as its main theme. Prejudice is the unjustifiable unfairness to a particular individual or group based on their background or lifestyle. This subject is explored in the novel in different forms; r****m is the main type but prejudice of class, s*x, family and age are also looked at. The social and historical milieu of the novel's release is very significant to the storyline and important in terms of world history. It was published in 1960 with a very popular response from the public. The '50s was the decade of change when civil rights in America was progressing further than ever before with Civil rights bills being discussed for the first time and demonstrations by historical figures such as Martin Luther King winning support from all over USA. It was a time when people were generally realising their mistakes and looking back at the prejudiced attitudes of white people toward black people in the 1930s and before. The novel is actually set in the early 1930s in Maycomb, Alabama when things were not so good for the black population in America. Despite the Civil War being won in 1861 by the Union (Northern states) in support of abolition of slavery, the Southern states (Confederates) refused to accept the black community and most of the Southern population and many in the North were still very r****t. Since Alabama is in the South, the people of Maycomb can be expected to be predominantly r****t. Segregation still existed all over America and there were many 'Jim Crow' laws which enforced this segregation. Blacks had different and lower quality schools, churches waiting areas, bars and places on buses. Groups like the Klu Klux Klan took the law into their own hands and often lynched black people accused of wrongdoings to white people. ...read more.


Scout "'He is not!' I roared. 'I don't know what you're talking about, but you better cut it out this red hot minute!'" When her cousin, Francis calls Atticus a n****r-lover, she is filled with anger despite not knowing what it means. This shows that she is a very protective and also short-tempered girl. It also shows her innocence. Later on though, she learns about it and declares that "there's just one kind of folks. Folks." This shows her maturity and her belief that everyone is the same inside. Another example of her learning more about prejudice is how she and the boys get engulfed by the Maycomb rumours of 'Boo' Radley and become obsessed with him. They play games re-enacting what they've heard and they try to make contact with him but they do not know that they are distressing him. This is prejudice on an individual basis. People are prejudice towards Boo Radley because they are scared of him and he is different to the rest of them. However, near the end, we see that scout has changed and taken Atticus' advice about stepping in people's shoes by looking at the world from Boo's point of view: "One time he (Atticus) said that you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough." This shows that Atticus has taught her well and we know that it is unlikely that she will grow up to be prejudiced. Jem also showed that he gained more understanding about Boo Radley by telling Scout this: "I'm beginning to understand why Boo Radley's stayed shut up in the house all this time...it's because he wants to stay inside." He says this because he understands that there is a lot of prejudice in the world after watching Tom Robinson being found guilty and Boo Radley would just become a victim of it if he went outside. ...read more.


Speech by influential characters like Atticus who described him as a 'quiet, respectable humble n***o' is used to try and change the image that white people had of black people. It was released when the Second World War was over and Hitler had been defeated. She used irony to try and make people see that prejudice had to be defeated at home too. Although this was a massive part of the novel, the actual story was about children growing up and maturing. It was about seeing the world through the eyes of a young girl. It showed the readers that the world seems simple and straight forward when you are innocent and have not witnessed the harsh cruelties in it. The book is also very useful for children because it teaches them a lot of things about society that are perhaps not discussed in school, not including prejudice. These things are still relevant today because although rules and the ways of life may have changed, people are still the same. r****m, sexism and other prejudice have not been wiped out so people can still relate to it. They can see how it has changed over the decades. The book is also useful for kids growing up because children still go through the same things as they are maturing. The ending offers an optimistic future for the people of the '50s and even us. The most interesting thing is how Scout stands outside the Radley place and recaps the past two years through Arthur Radley's eyes. "It was fall, and his children fought on the sidewalk...Winter, and his children shivered at the front gate...Summer, and he watched his children's heart break..." This offers hope because it shows that people in the end will have empathy just like Scout did with 'Boo'. They will see things from others' points of view and judge them differently. This is a great technique that Lee used and it sums up the book for the reader and makes them think about the topics involved in the novel. Kaushal Bhagat 11BN 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree 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 University Degree Harper Lee essays

  1. To Kill a Mocking Bird

    older brother , quite person but sometimes he can get aggressive Arthur "Boo" Radley His parent kept him inside , he had never step outside the house and his parents are religious. He lives with his brother in this novel.

  2. Why did Harper Lee choose to have a child narrator in, 'To Kill a ...

    Therefore, blacks then faced a poor, rigidly segregated life in the South where they were victims of r****m and the civil war did not raise blacks to a position of equality with whites. These harsh realities of segregation are realised by Scout, who hears Calpurnia being told: "You ain't got

  1. Consider the techniques used by Nichols and Taylor to convey their origins to the ...

    When Mr Granger, (the local white landlord) questions her motives she says: "Because all that's in the book isn't true." For black women to use such words against a man of Mr Granger's status is gallantry. Judging by her determination she is not only fighting for herself but also for her people.

  2. Techniques Alan Bennett Use's In 'a Lady of Letters'

    A lot of her time is spent sitting in the window watching her neighbours. Miss Ruddock thinks negatively and is quick to judge and stereotype people. The couple who have moved in over the road are young and she remarks "It'll surprise me if they're married".

  1. Discuss Harper Lee's presentation of prejudice and injustice in the trial episode. Pay particular ...

    "Scout," breathed Jem. "Scout, look! Reverend, he's crippled!" this is when Atticus without actually saying so, proved that is highly unlikely Tom Robinson, a man with a severely crippled left hand could have committed the assault on Mayella because her injuries suggested someone with two hands committed the assault.

  2. "Behind the Scenes at the museum" - Kate Atkinson Consider the effectiveness of the ...

    After a sentence or statement that often confuses the reader, there will be an instruction such as "(see Footnote (ii))". It is only after we read that particular footnote that we understand the previous chapter, thus, we are going 'Behind the scenes'.

  1. How do the mother's talk-stories and Chinese folklores help Maxine Hong Kingston embark on ...

    Kingston regards her aunt as her forerunner. The transgression of traditional boundary results in destruction of the roundness of the whole village and the upsurge of villagers' violence. this should terrify Kingston and silenced her. However, after a time, Kingston understands that she doesn't like to be a woman like her aunt who is vulnerable and defenseless towards other's disapproval.

  2. How Does Harper Lee Create Tension In Chapter XV Of "To Kill A Mocking ...

    The dialogue to express their concern for the safely guarded whereabouts' of Tom Robinson is all but aggressive. It's night time in the quiet town, so the occupants involved in the attempt to get Tom Robinson find it

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