Racial Prejudice In Harper Lee´S To Kill A Mockingbird

1366 words - 5 pages

Life is like a thrill ride; one never knows what will be in store for them. Many characters in the story To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee feel the same way about life, having experienced many surprising and unexpected turns of events. This story is about a sleepy southern town filled with prejudice, and a lawyer’s quest, along with his children Scout and Jem, to take steps in ridding the town of its prejudiced attitude. Despite being a white man, a lawyer named Atticus, defends an innocent black man accused of raping a white woman. However, everything does not go as was hoped, and the mindset of the society overpowered Atticus’s fair-minded argument. From this emerges a theme regarding the bigotry and bias overwhelming Maycomb: A prejudiced society results in blindness and ignorance, which can be thwarted through courageous and compassionate actions.
The discriminatory mindset of Maycomb’s society shows how prejudice can result in blindness. For example, in Scout’s class, Miss Gates talks about persecution of innocent people in a society after a student brings up the topic of Hitler and the massacre going on in Germany. “Over here we don’t believe in persecuting anybody. Persecution comes from people who are prejudiced.” (329) Miss Gates is extremely biased towards black people in her own society, and she doesn’t recognize the atrocities happening all around her, similar to the ones happening in Germany. This quote employs irony to show that because of these dominant external and internal influences, Miss Gates is blind to the injustice taking place. She is overly discriminatory towards black people, and feels that they should be treated as lower than white people. This shows how strongly biased mindsets, similar to that of Miss Gates, can lead to blindness and ignorance. This type of blind preaching and hypocrisy also occurs in Aunt Alexandra’s missionary circle. Miss Merriweather talks about how Mrs. Roosevelt and the others “up there” were being hypocrites in trying to accept the black people and live along with them. “At least we don’t have the deceit to say to ‘em yes you’re as good as we are but stay away from us. Down here we just say you live your way and we’ll live ours.” (313) Through irony, Lee is able to show how the women are blinded by their own prejudiced mindsets. The view that the missionary circle women have towards the black people leads them to blindly call Mrs. Roosevelt a hypocrite, even though they are themselves being hypocritical in trying to coexist with them. Instead of trying to live along side and interact with black people, the women are blinded by their narrow-mindedness to the point where they can’t see that what Mrs. Roosevelt is doing is beneficial in accepting black people as equals. Other than racial intolerance, the children also have a simple prejudice against Boo Radley. One example of this is when Jem gives Dill a “description” of Boo Radley based on previous biased ideas. “There was a long...

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