Prejudice and Tolerance in To Kill a Mockingbird

Topics: To Kill a Mockingbird, Black people, Harper Lee Pages: 3 (1068 words) Published: May 1, 2008
“Prejudice and Tolerance.”
By Elizabeth Cassar, Laura Furze, and Angelica Newbond

During the 1930’s depression, there was a great divide between black and white America. There were many communities and groups who had been exposed to the same treatment and persecution as the Negroes in To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee has used a small town setting, such as that in To Kill a Mockingbird, to illustrate America’s views on white supremacy and the inferiority of the black race. The author has illustrated view that are expressed world-wide through her characters in Maycomb county.

In the small town of Maycomb, prejudice towards Negroes was a common sentiment of white people. Prejudice is strongly evident between these cultures in To Kill A Mockingbird concerning the rape case against the accused Tom Robinson. Robinson’s case was to be tried in the Maycomb County Court. “…I ain’t ever seen any jury decide in favour of a coloured man over a white man…” (p. 230). These are the words of Reverend Sykes. Rev Sykes emphasizes the cultural indifference in the town with this statement. Maycomb may as well have been divided in two. The strong views of the white people gave them the prejudiced opinion that they were of a greater calibre and class. People of a white background assumed they deserved the finest way of life. They treated coloured people without respect and believed this was acceptable. A white person’s lifestyle was seen as a superior one and regardless of their principles and values. The Ewell family is headed by a disorderly and drunk father. The many children in the family were all unwashed and unclean. Even though this family was seen as lower class in the eyes of society, they were still seen as better people than Negroes. The Ewell family is a great example of the automatic dominance and authority you gain over Native Americans for being white. “Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed.” (p. 266). This observation was...
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