Prejudice and discrimination in “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee Essay Sample
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Prejudice and discrimination in “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee Essay Sample
“To kill a Mockingbird” was written by Harper Lee to criticize discrimination and prejudice to black people. Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel which is about white lawyer Atticus Finch who defends an innocent African American man accused of raping a white woman. The novel is narrated through eyes of a child whose name is Scout. Harper Lee narrates nonsense of prejudice and discrimination through the events characters face. The most important character who suffers from prejudice and discrimination is Tom Robinson, he is treated in injustice manner, because of his race. The Finch’s black servant is Calpurnia alienated by Aunt Alexandra. Boo Radley is another character who is isolated because of prejudice of Maycomb County people. He is locked in his room by his fateher. But we see not only racial prejudice but also isolation because of class distinction such as Walter Cunnigham and Mayella Ewell.
Although the majority of her hometown is prejudiced, Scout’s innocent mind remains non prejudice. To her, all is equal, so all should be treated equal.The novel is very affective in not only revealing prejudice but also examining the nature of prejudice and consequences. The whole story revolved around the prejudice views of Southern community. The whole reason of consequences of was because of people views towards blacks in the south.This novel shows clearly that 1900’s black people were treated unfairly. At that time, discrimination was very palpable. Prejudice and discrimination is a big problem which has been faced through ages and will be faced.
Prejudice and discrimination in To Kill a MockingbirdPrejudice and discrimination has caused the pain and suffering of others for many centuries. Prejudice and discrimination have always been around. One of the most destructive types of prejudice is based on someone’s race or cultural group. Racial prejudice is a moral and social problem affecting people and populations all over the world. Instead of bringing or holding people together, prejudice and discrimination push them apart. Single cause of racial prejudice is ignorance. If there is no relationship, people would be utterly unaware of another person’s or group’s existence. The objective of my study is to prove that Harper lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird to criticize prejudice and discrimination.
Also I aim to attract people’s attention to this subject and prove nonsense of discrimination and prejudice. I will examine how prejudice and discrimination affect people. To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960. Park states that “Harper Lee won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 with her this unique book. She didn’t write any other book after To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee was born in Monroeville, South Alabama. Her father was a former newspaper editor and proprietor, who worked as a state senator and practiced as a lawyer in Monroeville”(43). Chura says “Lee studied law at the University of Alabama from 1945 to 1949, and spent a year as an exchange student in Oxford University, Wellington Square. Six months before finishing her studies, she went to New York to pursue a literary career. Harper Lee grew up and with Truman Capote, her childhood friend”(42). This novel includes autobiographical information because; there are similarities between her life and characters in her novel.
To Kill a Mockingbird takes place in southern Alabama in the 1930’s, the time and place of an extremely discriminated society. Barbieri says “In the early twentieth century, the United States was experiencing social change. Slavery had been abolished decades ago, but the southern states were still restricting social relationships among people of different races”(32). Chuara states “Blacks were subject to special Jim Crow laws which restricted their rights and attempted to keep the race inferior to whites. In the legal system, blacks were not judged by a group of their peers; rather, they were judged by a group of twelve white men”(40).Blacks usually were found guilty. With these laws, blacks were feeling the pressure of prejudice. In Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, the plot revolves around a Depression-era court case of a black man accused of raping a white woman.
The novel is about the Finch family: Lawyer Atticus and his son Jem and daughter Scout. They live in the town of Maycomb in Alabama, where whites controls everything and blacks are second-class citizens. Atticus is the central character of the novel that defends a black man, Tom Robinson. The story is told in the first person by Scout Finch, a young girl so we see things through her eyes and from her point of view. Scout, Jem, and their friend Dill are interested by rumors about a man named Boo Radley who lives in their neighborhood, but never seen. There is a rumour that he stabbed his father in the leg with a pair of scissors, and he is made out to be some kind of rare monster. Dill is from Mississippi but spends his summers in Maycomb, at a house near Scout and Jem’s. Throughout the story the children are curious about Boo, and so they slowly begin moving closer to the house itself, which is said that it is haunted.
Then they also tried sneaking to the house at night and looking through the windows. Boo’s brother thought that he heard a robber so he began to shooting. The children run away without being injured, though Jem loses his pants garden. When he returns, his ragged pants have been folded and sewn up. They experienced other interesting things. A certain tree near the Radley house has a hole. In it little presents are left such as pennies and gum. After the children leave a note for the giver of these gifts, they return only to find that the hole has been cemented. Their neighbours house burns and happened an interesting event there. While Jem and Scout are sleeping while watching burning of their neighbor’s house, someone puts a blanket around Scout. She doesn’t realize that Boo Radley have been done it.
In Maycomb’s racist community, Atticus agrees to defend the black man whose name is Tom Robinson, who has been accused of raping a white woman. Tom Robinson’s trial begins and when Tom comes to jail, a group gathers to lynch Tom. At trial the children sit in the colored balcony with the town’s black citizens. Atticus provides clear evidence that the accusers, Mayella Ewell and her father, Bob are lying. Despite the significant evidence pointing to Tom’s innocence, the all-white jury convicts him. The innocent Tom later tries to escape from prison and is shot to death. Everything becomes normal after this event till Hallowen night.
While Jem and Scout returning from school party, Bob Ewell attacks Jem and Scout in the darkness. After Jem’s arm is badly broken, their isolated neighbour, Boo Radley, rescues Scout and her brother, the sheriff says that Bob Ewell fell on his own knife while he was struggling with Jem. Boo Radley returns home never to be seen again. Through the events, Scout learns that no matter their differences or peculiarities, the people of the world and of Maycomb County are all people. No one is better than anyone else because they’re all people. She realizes that judgment of people to their color, to their race is nonsense.
In the novel Boo Radley and Tom Robinson are innocent and alienated character who were treated within injustice because of society’s prejudice. Both of characters face prejudice and discrimination of Maycomb County society. In Maycomb almost every person alienates Arthur Radley. People of Maycomb choose to believe what they hear about Arthur because “people generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for…(174). There are many rumors about Boo Radley, for example some “people said he went out at night when the moon was down, and peeped in windows” (9). Stories about Boo are heard around Maycomb fast but the truths are kept quiet.
Tom Robinson is the victim of prejudice, racial discrimination, alienation, and injustice. Tom Robinson symbolizes the black side of society and how they are mistreated. Mr. Raymond talks about “the Hell white people give colored folks, without even stopping to think that they’re people, too” (201). The treatment of Tom at the trial illustrates this. The trial is the big example of racial discrimination. The majority of the white members of the community see Tom as a not human being. When he says that he felt sorry for Mayella he is almost sure to lose. Scout says as an adult it occurred to her “…that in there own way Tom’s actions were as good as Atticus’s”(195). Tom is not racist. Despite the way he is behave, he does not express anger toward white people, and not have prejudice toward them, just he is sad. He is convicted; the jury didn’t empathize with his position. Atticus is angry with jury and states:The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box.
As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it – whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.(194)In every society there is prejudice and discrimination. It is certainly not just. The only way to demolish it is to acknowledge its existence. In order to acknowledge alienation, prejudice, intolerance, ignorance, discrimination, and racism all have to be realized. Also in this book, Herper Lee tried to criticize and let people aware of prejudice, especially racial prejudice which is one of the greatest problems of the world for ages.
To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel revolved mainly around the events before, during, and after the trial of a black man, Tom Robinson, who was accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white. Chura states “they (the children) begin to learn that life is not as straight-forward and as fair as it seemed through the eyes of their childhood…and how people react when they are forced to choose between their prejudices and what they know is right.”(42) Through the novel children face lots of injustice attitudes. The whole story revolved around the prejudice views of this Southern community. Through my study, I will analyze characters that were discriminated because of prejudice and injustice, and I will try to prove how discrimination and prejudice was criticized with this novel. In the novel Boo Radley and Tom Robinson face prejudice mostly. Tom Robinson confronts with racial prejudice and discrimination. But there is another character, Calpurnia who is alienated because of her race. And I will mention about class prejudice.
In Maycomb Society not only blacks are discriminated but also lower class whites are alienated. This is shown when Aunt Alexandra refuses Scout’s request to invite Walter Cunningham. Also Mayella Ewell was discriminated “because she lived among pigs”. (192)Firstly I will search prejudice manners which Boo Radley faces. Boo Radley is Finch family’s mysterious neighbor. He is a man in his thirties who has not been seen outside of his home in years, because of his suppressed upbringing. When Boo was younger he was just like any other boy. One day his dad got sick of it and makes Boo stay in the house and he never lets him leave. Harper lee mentions that Boo had been locked in his house for over thirty years. His dad was always working so it was just Boo and his older brother. When Boo’s father died, his brother made him stay in the house just like his father did. He became utterly lonely. Scout mentions about Boo Radley:Inside the house lived a malevolent phantom. People said he existed, but Jem and I had never seen him.
People said he went out at night when the moon was down, and peeped in windows. When people’s azaleas froze in a cold snap, it was because he had breathed on them. Any stealthy small crimes committed in Maycomb were his work. Once the town was terrorized by a series of morbid nocturnal events: people’s chickens and household pets were found mutilated; although the culprit was Crazy Addie, who eventually drowned himself in Barker’s Eddy, people still looked at the Radley Place, unwilling to discard their initial suspicions.(7)Obviously Scout and her brother Jem are different from others in Maycomb County. They look with another point of view to Boo Radley, because they are young, and children are not immune to the kind of ridiculous prejudice that follows those who are different from those around them. Arthur Boo Radley plays an important role in the development of both Scout and Jem. Arthur Radley not only plays an important role in developing Scout and Jem, but helps developing of the novel. Boo can be divided into three stages in the novel. In the beginning of the story, Jem, Scout, and Dill create horror stories about Boo.
They find Boo as a character for amusement, and someone who has no feelings. They try to watch him, just to see what Boo looks like. Primitively, Boo is Scout’s worst nightmare. Children choose to believe what they hear about Arthur like people of Maycomb County. Jem causes the children’s fear of Boo, describing Boo’s bloodstained hands and rotting teeth, and exaggerating , “I’ve seen his tracks in our back yard many a mornin’, and one night I heard him scratching on the back screen, but he was gone time Atticus got there.”(14) Children tries to dare each other to touch the house, try to deliver a note to Boo. But Atticus was angry because of this Boo game. In spite of this they continue to watch Boo Radley. Children are very crucious about Boo, because they always hear rumours about him. Also it is sign of prejudice of Maycomb society. Nobody knows anything about him but talks. The secondary stage is when house of Mrs. Maudie, Finch family’s another neighbor, burns. As Scout and Jem is standing near Boo’s house, it must rather cold.
So, Boo places a warm and snug blanket around Scout and Jem, to keep them warm. This scene shows Boo’s more sensitive and caring side, and shows that he really needs friends to care and be with them. Boo leaves gifts for children in the hole of tree. He watches them and wants to be friend with them but they don’t understand. The last and definitely most important stage is when he kills Bob Ewell to save Scout and Jem. Scout connects Boo with the Mockingbird. Mrs. Maudie defines a mockingbird as one who “…don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us” (94). Boo is exactly that Boo is the person who put a blanket around Scout and Jem when it was cold. Boo was the one putting “gifts” in the tree. Boo even sewed up Jem’s pants that tore on Dill’s last night.
It is revealed that Arthur Radley is the one who had killed Bob Ewell while saving the lives of the children. On the contrary to Scout’s primary belief, Boo never harms anyone. Scout also realizes that she wrongfully treated Boo when she thinks about the gifts in the tree. She never gave anything back to Boo, except love at the end. When Scout watches Arthur home and stands on his front porch, she sees the same street she saw, just from an entirely different perspective. Scout learns what a Mockingbird is, and who represents one. This stage portrays Boo as the hero and one who has indefinitely changed his personality and attitudes. Scout understands that how they prejudiced and treated carelessly. After the final stage, Boo does not deserve to be locked up inside his house.
The reader never really understands who Boo Radley is. Instead of this, the reader hears many opinions of the people in Maycomb. Chuara states “Harper Lee does this on purpose to demonstrate that no one has the right to judge another person because no one can be sure of another person’s position.”(45). From Boo Radley, we can see how prejudice the county of Maycomb is. Harper Lee uses Boo Radley to show us that the county is not just prejudiced against black people but against white people as well. Boo Radley is an unusual individual, and he is misunderstood by the county. He is an outsider to the normal society of Maycomb County, because no one ever sees Boo. The people of Maycomb make up stories about Boo and the Radley household, and they do not bother to find out the truth. The County let rumors circulate about Boo and these rumors are assumed as the truth.
Scout explains “When people’s azaleas froze in a cold snap, it was because he had breathed on them…A baseball hit into the Radley yard was a lost ball and no questions asked.”(7) The rumors that were told about Boo made him out to be a horrible devil that eats rats with his bare hands who love to kill children. Arthur’s behavior suggests that the lack of tolerance and understanding was apparent to him. Jem explains that he used to think there was “…just one kind of folks” (227). He goes on to say that he understands why Boo Radley stays silence in the house all the time “If they’re all alike, why do they go out of their way to despise each other? I think 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.”(227).
This suggests that Jem becomes to recognize the injustices in the world around him and began to try to understand how he should deal with them without alienating himself. Barbieri says “when Jem and Scout begin to find objects, such as an old spelling medal and carved soap figures of themselves, hidden for them in the knot-hole of a tree in front of the Radley Place, Jem realizes what Scout does not, that the objects are gestures of affection from Boo, who has been shut away in his house since he was a boy.” (51). Jem exacltly understands that Boo is a real person who has been cruelly deprived of a normal life.
In spite of legend Boo was involved in, his father reacted with zero tolerance and Arthur Radley was arrested in Radley house forever without an exact reason. His father’s intolerance symbolizes society’s ignorance. The fact that he traps him in the house represents Boo’s isolation. His father is respected and this shows society’s respect for the status. Arthur never gains the courage to step back out into the world outside of his home. Arthur Radley is a great example of the invisible members of society, both literally and figuratively. He stays inside to avoid confronting ignorance and intolerance and is therefore alienated. He is invisible just as alienation often goes unseen. Mr. Raymond talks of how children often have difficulty understanding the prejudice in society, but as they grow older they adapt. Near the end of the novel Arthur is referred to as “childlike”. He never adapted and never became intolerant. Arthur is very much afraid to go outside; he is not accustomed to socializing because he has been isolated for such a long time. Arthur is a symbol of alienation; his fear of the outside world represents the fear of the unknown that causes discrimination.
Not only Boo but also another white member of Maycomb society, Walter Cunningham was discriminated not because of his race, because of his social status. When Scout wishes to invite Walter Cunningham to dinner, we see that she has gained a new knowledge of acceptance. But Aunt Alex, a model of conservative Southern manners, doesn’t believe an individual of Walter’s standing should associate with them. Aunt Alexandra symbolizes arrogant face of Maycomb County. She judge people to their statue and their race like other members of the Maycomb County.
Before Tom Robinson, There are a few events on the theme of prejudice and discrimination because of racism. The first one is Maycomb County’s behavior to Atticus and her childen and also Calpurnia is another example to racial discrimination. Firstly, when Atticus got the trial of Tom Robinson, Scout and Jem are ridiculed by their schoolmates and peers. Scout hears Atticus being accused of being a “nigger-lover” by Cecil Jacobs, Scout doesn’t know what Cecil means by saying that, so later that day she asked Atticus what a nigger- lover is. Here is what Scout says about this. “Cecil Jacobs made me forget. He had announced in the schoolyard the day before that Scout Finch’s daddy defended niggers.” (74).
After that Scout wants to get in a fight with Cecil for calling her dad that, but Atticus tells her to only do one thing, “you just hold your head high and keep those fists down.” (76). Parks says “she beats him up and is subjected to a “Policy of Cowardice” under Atticus’s request, and the second time she has to break her father’s rules because her cousin Francis continuously taunted her about Atticus being a nigger-lover”(58). Even Jem, who is the elder of the two Finch children and a gentleman, cannot hold his temper when Mrs Dubose, an old lady whom Jem and Scout both strongly disliked criticized their father to their faces. From these events, we understand that both children who are supposed to be innocent and wise exactly, are so highly influenced by the prejudice against blacks in the society. Also the case in which Atticus is defending a black man can lower his social status and cause people calling him nicks and disturbing his children.
Another event about prejudice and discrimination is Calpurnia’s being isolated by Aunt Alexandra and Black’s manner towards Atticus’s children. The summer when the trial is to take place, Calpurnia who is The Finches’ black cook takes the children to her church one Sunday when Atticus is at work. This leads Scout to see that there are Negroes within the black community who hate the whites as much as the whites hate them, and also a lot of big differences between the blacks and whites. For example, most of the black community cannot read, and they talk differently, more informally, even Calpurnia, who is a black herself, has to change her way of talking when she goes to church. Through this trip to the Negro church, the reader learns more about the case in the conversation between Scout and Reverend Sykes who was a Negro minister of the black church. Reverend answered Scout’s question of “Why can’t she take ’em (Helen’s children) with her, Reverend” by telling her that “…Helen’s finding it hard to get work these days… (180)” which implies that because of the case of her husband, Helen Robinson cannot find work. Because everybody thinks that her husband is the rapist and everybody discriminates her. This is another factor of prejudice in the book.
Aunt Alexandra behaves Calpurnia in an insulting manner. Barbieri says “Calpurnia has symbolized strength and authority throughout Scout’s childhood, by acting as a mother figure in the Finch household.”(36) Children love Calpurnia very much, According to that time and Mycomb County it is very stange. After the visit to the Negro church, Aunt Alexandra comes to stay with them. Aunt Alexandra does not seem pleased with Calpurnia still staying as their cook when Atticus is under so much pressure from defending a Negro. She wants Calpurnia to leave the household. Aunt Alexandra does not share her opinions with Calpurnia. After the incident when Atticus is almost attacked by the Cunninghams, Aunt Alexandra waits until Calpurnia is out of the kitchen before discussing the matter with Atticus. Aunt Alexandra appears to have many prejudices against people when it comes to different races and ethnicity.
This is a prejudice action, because Calpurnia is as good as a model as Aunt Alexandra Scout has never seen Calpurnia in such a low and submissive position. Calpurnia has a respected place in the Finch family through the years of dedicated service and through the love she has shown for the Finch children. Aunt Alexandra knows the children’s closeness to Calpurnia, so she fears the relation between the family and Calpurnia. Any relationship with a black person that goes deeper than employer and employee causes scandal in Maycomb, and Aunt Alexandra fully understands gossip and scandals. Aunt Alexandra’s attempt to get rid of Calpurnia results from her understanding of the matter. After her arrival, Aunt Alexandra talks Atticus. And Atticus made an efficient talk to Aunt Alexandra :Alexandra, Calpurnia’s not leaving this house until she wants to. You may think otherwise, but I couldn’t have got along without her all these years. She’s a faithful member of this family and you’ll simply have to accept things the way they are. (120)
Aunt Alexandra clearly wants Calpurnia out of the family. . Atticus directly counters Alexandra’s wish to get rid of Calpurnia, showing the high value he puts on Calpurnia. Atticus even goes as far as to say he regards Calpurnia as a “faithful member of the family,” which goes against all that Alexandra has tried to teach Scout. Atticus does not openly tell Scout to follow his lead and reject the racism of Aunt Alexandra, but Scout sees all that Calpurnia means to her family and sees how Atticus respects Calpurnia as an equal. Atticus’ respect and dependency on Calpurnia forces Scout to question Aunt Alexandra’s low opinion of Calpurnia and of all black people. Alexandra sees the respect and love that Scout feels towards Calpurnia and fears that Scout will learn to love what she considers “trash.” Aunt Alexandra’s label of ‘trash’ does not only classify blacks, but any group or person that Aunt Alexandra considers to be lower on the social side of Maycomb. Alexandra regards herself and the rest of the Finches as the royalty of Maycomb and she tries to make Scout understand this notion.
Before the trial, the children come across Mr Dolphus Raymond, who has a Negro as his mistress and always drinks whisky out of a sack. They also see his mixed children, where Jem makes a comment. So Harper Lee lets the reader see another aspect of discrimination against blacks of the whites and prejudice against whites of the blacks, “They don’t belong anywhere. Coloured folks won’t have ’em because they’re half white; white folks won’t have ’em ’cause they’re coloured.”(167) Jem says the “mixed children” are lonely and miserable because they truly don’t belong anywhere. Having one white parent and one colored parent disables them from fitting in with either group because they’re half of the other color. The colored kids don’t want anything to do with them. When they try and play with the white children they don’t accept them because they’re partially colored. So, they are taught not to have anything to do with colored people. To stand up to these kids takes a lot of courage. Anywhere these mixed children go they get called harsh names and are put down to the lowest degree.
Central character of the novel who suffered from injustice was Tom Robinson. He was charged with a crime he did not commit. Jury and Maycomb County did not believe him because he was black, which really shows the amount of injustice during the time the novel was set in. his being accepted as guilty is an exact results of prejudice. Through the whole trial, he did not accuse of the white people, he did not get angry because he was improperly accused. He just showed the level of respect which everyone deserves. He handled the injustice behaving as a gentleman. It is a good description of what he really was. At Tom Robinson’s trial racial prejudice was showed to how pitiful it can be. Atticus used so much evidence such as Tom could not have hit her because of disabled arm and that Mr. Ewell was left handed, so he could have hit her and the jury still convicted him that he was guilty.
The jury did not even have enough heart to claim him not guilty because Tom Robinson was Black. The Reverend Sykes said that he has never seen a black man win over a white man and as it turned out this case was no different because of the jury’s racial feelings. Tom Robinson was black and clearly not guilty but with peoples racial thoughts he was found guilty. During the trial, Atticus first questions Tom Robinson before Mr. Gilmer started questioning Tom Robinson. This is in contrast to the prejudice everybody else was showing, as he only judged Tom in respect to his individual character, and he tried to defend Tom, reasoning with the court, just like Atticus did. Sadly, just as the court refuses to accept the evidence that Atticus presents. Judge Taylor was allowing prejudice into the court, which was supposed to be a symbol of justice.
Right after that, Mr Gilmer cross examines Tom Robinson. He begins to question Tom Robinson, asking him about the reason why he helped Mayella Ewell. Finally, Tom tells him that he felt sorry for her. Tom Robinson says to show his being sad “Yes suh. I felt right sorry for her, she seemed to try more’n the rest of ’em-“(200) This proves to be a mistake as “Below us, nobody liked Tom Robinson’s answer.” In the Maycomb society, it is a taboo to have a black pity a white as the whites are of a higher authority. In that time, Mr. Gilmer thinks it is horrible that Tom Robinson, a poor black field worker, feels sorry for Mayella, a white citizen of Maycomb.
It should be acceptable, considering the condition that Mayella Ewell lives in, but in regard to the racial standards of the time, Tom’s statement causes some miff and it brings end of Tom Robinson. After some continual harsh cross-examination, Dill starts crying because “That old Mr Gilmer doin’ him thataway, talking so hateful to him?” Children, who are the most sensitive and innocent see the unfairness and discrimination in court. Scout has been in the Maycomb since she was born, and was highly influenced by the way the Maycomb people view things, she tells Dill that “after all he’s just a Negro”(201).
Scout knew that the adults will not like them associating with Mr. Raymond as firstly, he drinks whisky all the time, and secondly, however, they discover that what he drinks is only coca-cola. His wisdom and the fact that he is not prejudiced makes him seem unreal, but at the same time, he contrasts the prejudiced people in Maycomb and brings out their attitude even more clearly. He also says one sentence that proves the nonsense of the theme, “you haven’t seen enough of the world yet. You haven’t even seen this town, but all you gotta do is step back inside the courthouse.”(204) which imply that the courthouse alone will show the children the injustice there really is present in the world.In the end, Tom Robinson gets evicted, even though there is sufficient evidence to prove his innocence. Atticus explains this case to his son Jem:In our courts, when it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s, the white man always wins.
They’re ugly, but those are the facts of life… As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it – whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.(272)Atticus’s these sentences display injustice, discrimination and prejudice against blacks, Tom Robinson experienced. Parks states “Not only will there be no investigation, legal charges or trial relating to Bob Ewell’s death, but the circumstances of the death, including even the identity of the Arthur Radley as the salvific intercessor, will be suppressed”(49). There’s a black boy dead for no reason, and people are responsible for it’s dead. Heck Tate argues, “Let the dead the bury the dead this time, Mr. Finch. Let the dead bury the dead” (276). Atticus and Sheriff Tate then both acknowledge the killing of Bob Ewell not simply as a rescue of the Finch children but as symbolic retribution for the death of Tom Robinson.
The last person I’m going to talk about is Mayella Ewell. She was very lonely because she never really knew what love was. Her dad was abusive. She didn’t have any friends her age, the one person that she kept in contact with that was around her age was Tom Robinson. Tom felt sorry for her because she was home alone all day long with her little siblings and she had to do all the work around that house all on her own. Whenever Tom walked passed Mayella’s house he would see if she needed help with something a man should do instead of a woman. So as you can see she wasn’t quite as lonely as the other people. So reader can also look Mayella in prejudice eyes but Mayella was also a victim of Maycomb society.
Consequently, the whole story depicts a plot full of prejudices and discrimination against those of lower status and from different races, especially blacks, with the main attention on people like Boo Radley and Tom Robinson. Not only these characters but also other characters suffered from prejudice and discrimination, even a white lawyer and his innocent children. Told through the simple point of view of Scout, a little girl, the novel takes readers in deep thoughts about the unfairness towards the innocent people who have committed no crime except that of their background. Prejudice and discrimination is thus presented in a truthful manner through various incidents of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. We saw with this book that racial prejudice should be tolerated a bit.
You can’t change your skin color over night or at all. People need to look what’s inside a person instead of seeing someone and judging them because of their looks, it’s not fair. No one is the same exact color as another person, so if they wanted to judge people about skin color they can do the same to the whites because we’re just as different as the “colored people”. Martin Luther King has a perfect sentence about racial discrimination and prejudice. He says “We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.” I think his this sentence explains everything.
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Johnson, Claudia Durst, To Kill a Mockingbird: Threatening Boundaries,New York: Twayne Publishers, 1994This work is in MLA Style