To Kill A Mocking Bird Xvii
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“To better understand a person you have to climb up inside their skin and walk around in it.” The quote previously stated by Atticus in the book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is an unveiling of the upcoming forms of prejudice. The setting for the novel is a fictitious town called Maycomb. This town is situated in Alabama. The racial prejudice shown in the novel has a lot to do with the town being situated in the southern United States. The backwardness and narrow-mindedness of the community fueled racism in Maycomb. These negative qualities account for the social and religious prejudices in the novel. Maycomb people have very inward looking views and so these views are passed on from generation to generation. Prejudice is the preconceived opinion of a person or thing. There are three main types of prejudice: racial prejudice, social prejudice and religious prejudice. These three are the types of prejudice most dominant in To Kill A Mockingbird.
Maycomb is a very religious town with the foot-washing Baptists appearing to have a strong influence on the community. The foot-washers have very strict views and believe that anything which is pleasurable is a sin. They are therefore prejudiced against people who are different from them with different opinions or beliefs. The first example of their prejudice is when Miss Maudie says, “some of em came out of the woods one Saturday and passed by this place and told me and my flowers we were going to hell?” Their belief is so extreme they feel they should threaten those who are different. Scout is shocked by this as she thinks Miss Maudie is the best lady she knows. Miss Maudie is a good role model for Scout as she is not prejudice against anyone presented in the novel. Another example of prejudice toward somebody is the isolation of the Radleys. This isolation is due to this family not attending church. They also dont conform to other codes of behavior. The Radleys suffer religious prejudice because of this and social prejudices because they keep themselves to themselves, apart from everyone else. The society sees church as a pastime and therefore pleasurable; as Mr. Radley was a foot-washing Baptist he would not agree with attending church. The community seeing church as a pastime reflects their inward views and their narrow mindedness. The isolation of the Radleys is accentuated by the unusual positioning of their house. “jutted into a sharp curve” This reflects how the town considers the Radleys. They are deemed strange by the community. This is because they dont conform. They do not go to church. They do not socialize. Mrs. Radley never attends Missionary circle and the house is always closed on Sundays. This shows the intolerance in Maycomb of anyone who does not conform to their rules and standards of behavior. Boo Radley is treated with the most dislike as he has been to court when he was younger and was considered a troublemaker. Scout describes him at the beginning as: “a malevolent phantom.” The use of the word malevolent stresses the way in which they consider him evil. These three examples of religious prejudice accent Lees perspective of life, as she knew it at the time.
The next form of Prejudice, social, is illustrated in many instances throughout the novel. Mr. Radley is intolerant of others in his own way. This is reflected by the way he treats Boo. When Arthur was convicted, Mr. Radley promised to look after him whereas the other boys in the gang were sent away. The boys who were sent away received a good education but Boo was punished by his father and began to be thought of as an outcast. Prejudice in Maycomb is also due to the snobbish and intolerant attitude towards those of a lower class. The second example that illustrates this form of prejudice is that the Ewells are outcasts; they live on the outskirts of town. “Maycomb Ewells lived behind the town garbage dump in what was once a Negro cabin.” They are treated slightly better than the black people only because they are white. The location of the house shows their lowly place in society. The Ewells obviously struggled, as they had to scrounge to survive. “Ewells gave the dump a thorough gleaning everyday.” This shows the Ewells extremely poor quality of life and shows how they dont really look after themselves. The town holds a lot of contempt for the Ewells because of the way they are. “Well convict this Negro but get back to your dump!” They are not looked well upon by anybody in Maycomb. Even Atticus, the most unprejudiced person in the novel doesnt like the Ewells. “The disgrace of Maycomb for three generations.” This shows just how much the Ewells are disliked. The long-standing prejudice towards the Ewells is experienced by people as young as Scout. She comments on one of the Cunninghams as not being trash, even though they are a lower class, because: “He aint like the Ewells!” This shows that the town is not prejudice toward the Ewells merely because of their class but also for other reasons. One of these reasons is the lack of dignity they display in the way they live “made the plot around the cabin look like the playhouse of an insane child!” They also show little respect for themselves because they live purely off the state and do not attempt to help the bad reputation they have acquired. “Hes one of the Ewells” This quote refers to a younger member of the family at school. He is misbehaving and the others think of this as normal. He is just living up to the stereotype of a “Ewell.” Other lower class families are not treated with such contempt, as they are different from the Ewells. The Cunninghams are respected by Atticus and others. “Never took anything they cant pay back!” The Cunninghams are proud, honest, poor but very independent. They dont expect charity from the church or the government, in contrast to the Ewells. “No church baskets and no scrip stamp.” Even though they lead respectful lives, snobs such as Aunt Alexandria are still prejudiced against them. She discriminates against them merely for being a lower social class. She also believes they are a typical stereotype. “A nest of those Cunninghams, drunk and disorderly.” She continues her stereotype, “theres a drinking streak in that family a mile wide.” She doesnt believe they are good people simply because of their inferior background. She is one of the most prejudiced people in the book. She judges a person by social class and not personal qualities. She states: “Our kind of folk dont like the Cunninghams” This shows her personal narrow mindedness. The town of Maycomb is prejudice against people simply because they dont originate