The Theme Of Prejudice In To Kill A Mockingbird

2346 words - 9 pages

The Theme of Prejudice in To Kill a Mockingbird

‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ teaches us about the deceit and prejudice
amongst the residents of Maycomb County, all of whom have very
contrasting and conflicting views. We are told the story through the
eyes of little girl, Scout, and the day-to-day prejudices she faces
amongst society. Her father, Atticus, is a white man defending a
Negro, even though the town frowns upon such a thing. He is trying to
bring order to the socially segregating views, both within the court
and out.

The most common form of prejudice, which is seen many times throughout
the novel, is racism. The white folk of Maycomb County feel they have
a higher status in society than the black community, and that the
Negroes are there simply to be controlled by the whites. The views of
a Negro do not matter; they are worthless to a white person. They are
seen as dirty and ‘beneath’ a white. This is true even in extreme
cases such as the Ewells being compared to the black community. Even
though the Ewells are seen as low class, shabby and disliked, they are
still given a higher status than any Negro. You find out the position
of the Ewells quite early on in the book, after Scout meets the
youngest child of the family, Burris. Atticus tells Scout “…the Ewells
had been the disgrace of Maycomb for three generations. None of them
had done an honest day’s work”. This statement from Atticus gives us
another form of prejudice; class. By saying that they are a disgrace
and have never done a days work, degrades them and thus makes them
sound lower class, which essentially they are. This topic is raised a
few times in the book, but fundamentally with the same view. The Ewell
children however are treated quite differently to their father. We are
told that he “…spends his relief cheques on green whisky”. This shows
what a bad father he is and why his family have been given a bad name.
The rules in Maycomb state that no one is allowed to set traps or hunt
for game, however these have been bended slightly for the Ewells.
Atticus says that no landowners will begrudge Bob Ewell any game he
kills, because it is sometimes the only source of food the children
get. Even with these many faults the Ewells are received with a higher
status and well being, than any of the well living and good Negroes.

Prejudice is also shown against Boo Radley. This is because no one
really knows what he is like and makes up their minds about him,
without fully understanding his personality. The residents speculate
about his behaviour, and what he gets up to while inside his
residence. Rumours were also spread that he "went out at night when
the moon was down, and peeped in windows... any stealthy small crimes
committed in Maycomb were his work". Miss Stephanie Crawford says that
she saw him peering into her window late at night, which may of course
not be true as she is known to gossip. When stories such as that are
spread...

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