Predjudice In To Kill A Mockingbird

1264 words - 5 pages

The novel TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee has numerous accounts of racism and prejudice throughout the entire piece. The novel is set in the 1930's, a time when racism was very prevalent. Although bigotry and segregation were pointed in majority towards blacks, other accounts towards whites were also heard of, though not as commonly. There are acts that are so discreet that you almost don't catch them, but along with those, there are blatant acts of bigotry that would never occur in our time. Lee addresses many of these feelings in her novel. One subtle example of discrimination the reader sees is the treatment of Calpurnia, a black woman, the housekeeper/nanny for the Finch family. Although she is treated fairly, it is obvious that she is considered to be on a lower social level than the Finches. She calls Scout ma'am and Jem sir, although these are titles usually reserved for elders. "Hush your mouth, sir! When you oughta be hangin' your head in shame you go along laughin'. If Mr. Finch don't wear you out, I will - get in that house, sir!" When Atticus takes Calpurnia to Tom Robinson's home, she has to sit in the back seat so as not to appear as Atticus's equal. She does not eat at the same table with the Finch family although she has been a part of it since Jem was two. She is clearly loved by the family but by no means is she their equal. "I said come here, nigger, and bust up this chiffarobe for me, I got a nickel for you." The words "nigger", "darkie", and "boy" are seen often throughout the book. It is often used hatefully but sometimes it is used in a conversation where the speaker says it like they're saying colored. "Do you defend niggers, Atticus?" "Don't say nigger, Scout. That's common." This particular quote shows how far ahead Atticus was at this time. He knew that the word nigger was offensive to the blacks at this time. He showed the respect and common courtesy which was very rare of an affluent white male. Most of the blacks live in the bad part of town, or the "slums." Even if they had the money, they wouldn't have been able to live in an upper class neighborhood like the Finches. Blacks were considered dirty and unsanitary therefore, people didn't want them next to their houses. They feared that it would bring down their real estate value along with their reputations. The black people in this era were not allowed to vote. Yes, they had the right to vote but there were such things as the grandfather clause. The grandfather clause allowed blacks to vote only if they had a grandfather that voted. If their grandfather was a slave, they couldn't vote. In that effect, no black could vote and no black would ever be able to. There were also the Jim Crow Laws. Blacks could not go into restaurants or other public places inhabited by whites. There were separate schools, water fountains, restores, even churches. Blacks had to sit in the back of buses and other forms of public transportation. If they had a seat and there were no empty...

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