Explore How The Theme Of Prejudice Is Conveyed In "To Kill A Mockingbird"

1691 words - 7 pages

To Kill A Mockingbird was written by Harper Lee, and is set in the Deep South of the thirties. Lee was herself born and raised in Alabama, so she would have had direct experience of the situation she writes of in the novel. Although it does not deal with civil rights as such - for example, the right to vote - it is greatly concerned with the humanity of those who lived in such a discriminatory society. The bigotry of some of the characters in the novel greatly resembles that of those who live in the South, where the fictional Maycomb County is located, at around the same time.Different forms of prejudice are an important part of To Kill A Mockingbird; primarily, racism. This theme is covered ...view middle of the document...

This woman shows her blindness to the racial problems of the area and time in which she's living, yet can feel deeply how wrong the mistreatment and slaughtering of Jewish people is even though Germany is much more distant. This demonstrates the ignorance of many people in the Deep South, who fail to see that what they are doing goes against their beliefs.There is a strong division of class within Maycomb. We do not really come across anyone who is 'upper' class, but there are many people in differing levels of poverty- especially as the novel is set during the time of the Depression. The lowest and most deprived of these were the Ewells, who are described as having nothing and living in squalor. The class division comes across clearly when Alexandra forbade Scout from inviting her friend Walter Cunningham to their house. She told Scout that she couldn't play with Walter "because he is trash", and she might pick up his habits and become like him. This type of division illustrated here effectively comes from people believing that they are better than others in some way. Even though Scout disagrees with this, she knows that people are subject to this caste: "Walter - that boy's not trash, Jem. He ain't like the Ewells". Scout knows that people as far removed as the Ewells have to be treated differently, as she found that they are excused from certain laws, but she goes against being prejudiced towards people like the Cunninghams. Scout has demonstrated her belief that people who are different shouldn't be treated as bad people.In the thirties, women had the right to vote but were still not treated equally. Alexandra, the sister of Atticus, manages to illustrate the stereotypical view of women by attempting to change the tomboy Scout into a more ladylike individual. Scout is repeatedly told exactly where she exactly where she is going wrong, which can show the reader how a lot of women knew the role expected of them, and also what this was. Scout is told that she should dress appropiately, and indulge in more suitable activities;"don't you want to grow up to be a lady?". This relates to Harper Lee's background, as she was known for not conforming to the gender stereotype. The difficulties Scout suffered at the hands of her aunt might then be reflective of what Harper Lee went through. It shows a different type of prejudice, where women are expected to behave in a certain way.The missionary circles in the 1930's working in the south of America show the two faced nature of white citizens several times in each meeting. One strong example is Mrs Merriweathers' praise on a Christian explorer in Africa helping the evil savages see the light of Jesus Christ, whilst she can condemn Atticus at the same time for helping an innocent man . These so called Christian women safely say well done to a man helping African black people but if anyone should help out a black person anywhere near them it then becomes 'Nigger loving' and should be condemned by all within...

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