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Prejudice In Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird

5719 words - 23 pages

Prejudice in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ was written by Harper Lee in 1960. Nelle
Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama, a city
of about 7,000 people. She studied law at the University of Alabama
and one year at Oxford University. After giving up working as a clerk
for an airline she moved into a cold-water apartment in New York to
concentrate on writing. She first handed this book to a publisher in
1957 but it was rejected so she took two further years to rework it
before it was published as ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ in 1960.

The book tells a story very similar to Lee’s own childhood. The town
in which it is set is a small southern town just like her own with the
characters matching friends and associates from her youth. It is set
in the thirties and is a highly significant statement and important to
that era. It was written at the time of the civil rights movement,
which guaranteed basic civil rights for all Americans, regardless of
race. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ was set thirty years before Lee wrote
it, meaning she could use hindsight to give the story authenticity.
Lee helped move the civil rights movement forward by reminding the
population of the prejudice they had and showing them that something
had to be done.

The American civil war was between the North and the South of the
country. The South had very definite views on the way black people
should be treated and that they should be slaves and nothing more,
whereas, in the North, people were more open to change and felt that
something should be done about the situation of segregation and
injustice. The novel is set in the South, which gives it strong
relevance to the continuing prejudice because, although the civil war
had liberated the slaves, many white people in the South had not
changed their views on black people.

'To Kill a Mockingbird' is written in first person narrative and from
the viewpoint of a young tomboy called Scout. It is the story of a
young girl growing up in a small town in the South of America. The
town is typical of the South but Scout lives in a very fair-minded
household where, through mistakes of herself and others, learns many
lessons and grows. The story takes us from Scout at a young age to
Scout as an adult looking back on her childhood.

It is set in the time of The Great Depression, an economic low which
many of it’s characters suffer from. It’s relevance to 'To Kill a
Mockingbird' may be that the white people in Maycomb first experienced
the level of poverty at which most black people lived and therefore
feel more vulnerable, making them more defensive.

The principle characters are an educated white family living in a
prejudiced world. The narrator is Jean Louise Finch, known as Scout to
most people. She spends nearly all of her time with her brother, four
years her senior, Jeremy Atticus Finch, or Jem. Their mother died when
Scout was two but they...

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