To what extent is To Kill a Mocking Bird a novel about prejudice?
To Kill a Mocking Bird is set in Maycomb in a small southern
American county this is of great importance to the novel. Scout best
sums up the situation faced by Maycomb by saying 'There was no hurry.
Because there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy
it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb'. The people
of Maycomb were often inter related and posses traditional 'white
conservative' moral values. This is why you would expect prejudice,
divisions and narrowmindness to take place. Not many people have
travelled outside Maycomb, this means they have not experienced
different cultures to their own. This leads to a narrow minded
To some extent to kill a Mocking Bird is a novel about prejudice
as we witness adults attitudes to race and social divisions in the 1930's.
The views of the people of Maycomb have not changed over time as
they still hold the same rigid ideas as their ancestors. Atticus tells Scout
'You might hear some ugly talk about it (Atticus' case), but do one
thing for me if you will: you just hold your head high and keep those
fists down'. The people of Maycomb take their anger, of defending Tom
Robinson out on Scout. Scouts cousin calls Atticus a 'Nigger Lover'.
Scout tries to explain to Atticus 'that it wasn't so much what Francis said
that had infuriated me as the way he had said it'. We see how Francis
takes his families anger of Atticus' case out on Scout.
The prejudice from Blacks to Whites is enormous in the novel.
We see how harsh the community of Maycomb is towards Blacks and
their hatred for them. In the conviction of Tom Robinson we see how an
innocent mans freedom is taken away from his accusers who were lying.
Although the courtroom knows Tom Robinson is innocent, they are still
small minded and convict Tom of a crime he did not commit because of
his race. They perceived all blacks as sexual beasts and frequently
refer to blacks as 'niggers' and 'trash'. Tom Robinson was found guilty
of raping Mayella because of prejudice towards him due to his
race. Atticus tries to give a fair defence and gets us to think of Tom as a
'human being' and not as an 'animal'. Atticus hopes that his children
will be able to watch the trail 'without catching Maycombs usual disease'
We also see how the people of Maycomb see Blacks , as they
are segregated from whites in the courthouse but Scout and Jem
disregard the views of Maycomb and go and sit in the 'coloured
balcony' ,this shows that they have no prejudice towards blacks.
Jem and Scout are still shown respect due to the colour of their skin
as 'four black adults' gave up their seat for them.
Tom Robinson loses his faith before Atticus as he knows the white
race is stronger, and that justice would never be served because of his
race. Atticus tells Tom not to lose faith but soon after he loses faith
himself in the justice...