This essay will focus on exploring the theme of prejudice in Harper Lee’s novel - ‘To kill a mockingbird’ , published in the four years after the renowned bus boycott of Montgomery, , it resonates with the feelings and attitudes prevalent at the time. A variety of different types of prejudice are exposed to us throughout the progression of the novel, arguably the most significant being racial and class prejudice. I shall focus my essay on exploring how these types of prejudice are explored in the novel.
In the beginning of the novel we are introduced to the ‘tired old town’ of Maycomb through Scout, the narrator. Scout reminisces upon her early childhood memories, set in a time where social and racial prejudices were considered well within the social norm. Harper lee’s use of a lexical field of heat created by words such as ‘wilted’, ’sweltering’ and ‘suffered’ indicate to us the negative effect this class and social prejudice induced oppression is having on the citizens of the town.Additionally scouts description of the ,’courthouse sagged in the square’ is used to convey to the audience that justice; represented by the courthouse, ‘sagged’ under the weight of prejudice within the town.
Haper Lee uses the character of Atticus to represent the conscience of the town and to convey important lessons to the audience through his teachings to scout on the sinful and character destroying nature of prejudice, he subsequently teaches the audience of the irrationality and the consequences of such derogatory attitudes.
For example in Atticus’s explanation to scout of the meaning of ‘nigger lover’ he stated that it was simply a ‘common, ugly term ‘ which merely reflects back on ‘how poor’ the person who labeled you with it is.
It could be argued that Harper Lee uses the innocence of the main protagonist Scout, and her brother to highlight how Prejudice can be rooted in fear and misunderstanding. This is particularly true when the children are fearful of the mysterious Boo Radley the malevolent phantom. The whole neighbour hood is shown to be suspicious of his character, exposed through their tendency to blame him for crimes such as the case of the ‘mutilated chickens,’ and their fnck;fevnef ’unwilling to discard their initial suspicion and despite evidence to vindicate him .Harper Lee depicts Boo Radley as a victim of the social constraints of the time - having acted like a a teenager and gotten...