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How Does Harper Lee Highlight The Prejudices Of 1930's Maycomb In To Kill A Mockingbird?

1115 words - 5 pages

Set during the 1930’s, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird explores the events which occur in the southern county/town of Maycomb, Alabama. Through the eyes of a young girl names Scout, the narrative discusses the fundamental issue of prejudice. However, there are a myriad of ways in which this is shown; not only is it the characters which display outright contemptuousness but the major events that show the damage that can be done once inflicted with biased opinions. The tale also incorporates many hidden symbols which show the extent of the injustice in Maycomb.

Throughout the course of the novel, Harper Lee expresses the notion of racism through the use of symbolism.The notion of the ...view middle of the document...

During the mad dog incident, Atticus is the only person who is able to shoot the dog in order to save the people of Maycomb. However, later on in the novel when he again faces the dilemma of Tom Robinson’s Trial, he is not able to do the same. Watching Atticus during the trial Scout sees that it is like “watching Atticus walk into the street, raise a rifle to his shoulder and pull the trigger, but watching all the time knowing that the gun was empty” even Atticus’ skill for shooting is no use if the gun isn’t loaded. Though Atticus is the only person who is able to take a stance against Maycomb;s prejudice ways, racism will still pertain and be “just as dangerous dead as alive.” It is these symbols which Harper Lee utilises that draw attention to the bigoted beliefs of the people of Maycomb.

Through the portrayal of her characters and their perspectives, Harper Lee underlines the prejudices of Maycomb. Dolphus Raymond faces prejudice from Maycomb’s white population as he is a wealthy,white man who is targeted because he lives with his Negro wife and his ‘in-between’ children. However, Dolphus Raymond pretends to act like a drunkard and excuses himself from the eyes of his white neighbours. Dolphus Raymond is portrayed as a long-suffering man who is too weak to stand for his beliefs on race. Miss Gates, Scout’s school teacher teaches them about Hitler’s prejudice towards the Jews. However, in juxtaposition it is similar to the discrimination which occurs in her own country. Scout is confused about the hypocrisy of Miss Gates and how she can “hate Hitler so bad an' then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home." This shows how similar conflicts in other societies are easily able to overshadow the prejudices of the people of Maycomb. Nevertheless, Aunt Alexandra displays both a social and gender bias. She embodies all the local prejudices of the Maycomb society, like the insensitivity for the “white trash” and superiority over the coloured society. A prominent example of social bias is shown by Aunt Alexandra is when she doesn't allow Scout to affiliate herself with Walter Cunningham after the trial. Though Scout is aware that one of the...

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