In her novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee has used various literary techniques to position the reader’s attitudes in relation to prejudice within the society of Maycomb. Through use of perspective, characterisation and symbolism, Lee highlights that prejudice is developed through life experiences and the surrounding influences, while emphasizing the damaging effect it can have on innocent individuals and society as a whole. A fundamental element of the novel is the author’s use of young Jean Louise Finch (Scout) as a narrator, as it is through the dramatization of Scout’s transition from a perspective of childhood innocence that Lee critiques the role of class status and, ultimately, prejudice in human interaction. Similarly, the characterisation of individuals with greatly contrasting views on race and social status is a key factor in the way the reader perceives the extent of prejudice evident in certain characters. Furthermore, Lee’s use of a reoccurring mockingbird symbol throughout the book serves as a consistent reminder of the threat that prejudice poses to innocence.
Through structuring the novel around Scout’s childlike perspective of the events surrounding the trial of Tom Robinson, the author effectively establishes an entirely objective observer and reporter to question the prejudices ingrained in society. Lee uses the children’s perplexity at the unpleasant layering of Maycomb to highlight the discriminatory views of other characters. This is demonstrated when Scout doesn’t understand why her Aunt Alexandra will not permit her to play with Walter Cunningham, a poverty-stricken farmer’s son, stating; “The thing is, you can scrub Walter Cunningham till he shines, you can put him in shoes and a new suit, but he’ll never be like Jem” (p.119). It is through Scouts furious reaction to this statement that the reader is positioned to understand the unjust nature of he Aunt’s reasoning, and the strength of prejudice that she holds against those in...
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