Harper Lee Paper

Published: 2021-09-11 04:10:10
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Category: To Kill A Mockingbird

Type of paper: Essay

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Harper Lee involves the theme of prejudice by illustrating many different examples of where society is judgmental. Mrs. Luttrell-Anderson Tuvraen Kaur Prejudice in To Kill a Mockingbird Prejudice cannot perceive the things that are because it is always looking for things that are not. In Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, prejudice is accentuated as one of the main themes and is illustrated in many different examples of where society is judgemental.Set in the South during the 1930’s in a small town known as Maycomb County, one of the most important morals, the one that states that all humans, no matter colour, or gender are equal, is justified. Due to the Great Depression during the early twentieth century, poverty became an issue that affected many. Instead of using that as a binding theme, the people in the town use it as an element of separation. Prejudice of every sort runs rampant throughout the town. Three types of prejudice are conveyed in this book; namely, social class prejudice, racial prejudice and gender prejudice.The backwardness and insularity of the community fuelled the racism in Maycomb. The theme of the wrongs of prejudice is brought forth through the eyes of a nine-year-old girl, Scout Finch. Gender prejudice has been long woven into the fabric of many societies. It was driven by the universal belief that women are weaker of the sexes, emotionally as well as physically. Women in the early 1900’s did not have the right to vote, and were refrained from pursuing jobs that were usually done by men. In the book, women were not permitted to be a part of the jury.Many believed that women were too weak to handle the details of some cases. Atticus Finch, Scout’s father, and also Tom Robinson’s attorney, further explains this belief, “I guess it’s to protect our frail ladies from sordid cases like Tom’s. Besides, I doubt if we’d ever get a complete case tried–the ladies’d be interrupting to ask questions. ” (221) In this book, not only does one come across prejudice directed towards woman, but also towards men. Francis, a cousin of Scout’s tells her that his grandmother is oing to teach him how to cook. Scout replies by saying, “Boy’s don’t cook” (84) In Maycomb it appears that the society chooses how the girls and boys should act, and what professions they are allowed to pursue. Scout Finch has been described as a tomboy, most frequently clad in overalls, and spends much time with her older brother, Jem. Throughout the novel, Scout is scolded about her manners, tough character, and her overall unladylike behaviour. “Aunt Alexandra was fanatical on the subject of my attire.I could not possibly hope to be a lady if I wore breeches; when I said I could do nothing in a dress, she said I wasn’t supposed to be doing things that required pants. Aunt Alexandra’s vision of my deportment involved playing with small stoves, tea sets, and wearing the Add-A-Pearl necklace she gave me when I was born” (83) It’s unfortunate that woman were burdened by the society and moulded into the perfect ladies right from a young age. In Maycomb gender discrimination was contemporary as many were denied opportunities in the work place or, misjudged or critiqued solely on the basis of their sex.Racism is the belief that race is a key determinant of human traits and those racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. The community’s narrow-mindedness is formed because the society has remained unchanged for many decades with the same families occupying the town. This causes prejudice towards anything that is different from the “norm”. Though times have changed since slavery, Maycomb is not able to look past their differences and treat each other equally. Racial discrimination cost Tom Robinson his life.Tom, a black man, was accused of raping Mayella Ewell. In the court hearing, it seems that Tom was innocent because the person who beat Mayella had led primarily with his left hand, and Tom’s left hand was crippled. Even though there was no sufficient evidence that Tom tried to rape Mayella, the jury convicted him. The jury sentenced Tom simply because it was his word against a white woman’s word. Mayella broke a time-honored code, she tempted a black man, and to restore her dignity she lied to the jury. “When it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s, the white man always wins. (220) During the hearing, Jem, Scout and Dill learn that Dolphus Raymond, who is the supposed town drunkard, hardly drinks alcohol at all. “He’s got a colored woman and all sorts of mixed chillun. ” (163) Dolphus tells the children that he pretends to be drunk so the people of Maycomb can blame his living conditions on the effects of alcohol. He explains that the people could never understand that he lives with colored folks because he wants to live with them. ““Wh—oh yes, you mean why do I pretend? Well, it’s very simple,” he said. “Some folks don’t—like the way I live. (204) The society goes to such an extent with their prejudice that the coloured people are segregated not only from church, but also in the court room. Racial prejudice is a controversial issue throughout the book that adds suspense and drives the plot. Social hierarchy is a very significant part of any community, fictional or not. In Maycomb, who the people are, what they own, and the color of their skin, all contribute to their standing in society. There is a definite separation between those who are higher and those who are lower on the social ladder.Jem even acknowledges this by stating, “There’s four kinds of folks in the world. There’s the ordinary kind like us and the neighbors, there’s the kind like the Cunninghams out in the woods, the kind like the Ewells down at the dump, and the Negroes. ” (226) Aunt Alexandra abides by this and blatantly tells Scout that Walter Cunningham is trash. “The thing is, you can scrub Walter Cunningham till he shines, you can put him in shoes and a new suit, but he’ll never be like Jem. ” (228) The Cunninghams and the Ewells are discriminated against because they both do not have much money.The Cunninghams and the Ewells are both farming families, but the Cunninghams are part of a higher class because the Ewells are what one would call “trash. ” They do not have the same social etiquettes and respect for society’s rules and morals. The black community is the lowest social class. Having black skin automatically puts them on the bottom of the class chain. In Maycomb it is hard to judge someone without being bias about who they are, what they own, and, most importantly, the colour of their skin.Prejudice can shield you from getting to know the real person by arbitrating them based on their race, social class, and gender. “Shoot all the bluejays you want… but remember, it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” (93) The mockingbird is being represented as a repetitive motif to symbolize virtuousness and victims of injustice throughout the novel. It is a symbol of innocence and benevolence against prejudice of all sorts. Though many people in Maycomb have broken away from the norm, racial, social, and gender prejudice is still strong and a vile force in society that is hard to break away from.

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