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Influence Of Stereotypes In To Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee

2221 words - 9 pages

Introduction
Section One: Harper Lee’s Life
Section Two: Time Period Influences on Lee’s Writing
Section Three: Influence of Stereotypes
Section Four: To Kill a Mockingbird Reviews
Conclusion
Works Cited

Introduction
Which doll is better? In the 1950s, psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark asked black children between three and seven to answer this simple, yet revealing question. The kids were shown four dolls that were exactly the same except for their skin colors. Almost three quarters of the children chose the white doll as being superior and attributed positive characteristics to it. When asked why they picked it, they replied with, “Because it’s white” (Abagond). Almost half a century later, in 2005, Kiri Davis repeated the test to see if psychology has changed in any way. Results show 71% of the children preferring the white doll (Edne). These tests demonstrate the incredible stereotypical beliefs still present today. The belief that there is only one acceptable perception to anything is ingrained into society’s minds, and limits individuals from thinking for themselves. Author Harper Lee explores this topic as she displays to readers prevalent stereotypes and their effects in her novel To Kill a Mockingbird.

Section One: Harper Lee’s Life
Harper Lee was born April 28th, 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama. Lee’s father, Amasa Coleman (A.C.) Lee, was a former newspaper editor who served as a state senator and lawyer. Due to his occupations, A.C. had a tremendous influence on her writing. Not only is A.C. a writer just like Lee; but, the main character in Lee’s novel, Scout Finches’, father, Atticus, also practices law. Atticus defends a black man accused of raping a white woman who is found guilty and murdered. Similarly, A.C. Lee had a case of two black men accused of murdering a white storekeeper with the same end result. In both cases, the black males were found guilty because individuals did not think for themselves and simply conformed to everyone else’s stereotypical beliefs (Schmoop Harper Lee).
As a child, Lee was very much like her character Scout Finch. Lee was a tomboy; she would fight on the playground, and talk back to teachers, just like Scout. When Scout attends her first day of school she retorts back to her teacher to the point that her educator says, “Jean Louis, I’ve had about enough of you this morning...You're starting off on the wrong foot in every way” (Lee 24). Lee would have acted very similarly on her first day. After secondary school, Lee studied law at the University of Alabama from 1945 to 1949, writing in the school’s newspaper and humor magazine, the Rammer Jammer. Lee soon realized that her passion was in writing and dropped out after the first semester. Though she quit, the knowledge she gained from university about the legal system is displayed in her novel (Big Read).

Section Two: Time Period Influences on Lee’s Writing
During the mid-1900s, prejudice and stereotypes were very prevalent,...

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