The Effects of Discrimination -to Kill a Mockingbird

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The Effects of Discrimination
Kaitlyn Hrasko

“If you believe that discrimination exists, it will.” -Anthony J. D’Angelo. Discrimination has been around since the beginning of time. In Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, the narrator, a young girl by the name of Scout, comes to realize all of the different types of discrimination. Her father Atticus is a lawyer and fights for the rights of others; Scout is taught by her father at a young age, that discrimination is erroneous. With the guidance of her father, she sees what can happen when prejudice attitudes are taken too far, and how it can affect the lives of people. Some of the types of discrimination that Scout encounters throughout the novel are race, age, and social status. Initially, a person can really alter someone’s life by being prejudice towards them because it dehumanizes and humiliates them; however this is hard to change when years of prejudice, discrimination, and racism are present in society. Consequently, when people drop the need to point out others differences and judge them on superficial things, people have a better understanding of one another. Often in life, people do things without fully thinking of the consequences and how it will affect the other person. This is the first instinct, and usually happens naturally without fully thinking it through. However, this hurts the person emotionally, and creates things like racial tension. Ultimately, people discriminate because they are insecure, and feel the need to feel better about themselves. People also feel the need to point out another’s differences because they are strange to them, and do not fully understand the beauty of being unique.

Equality between men and women is probably the oldest type of discrimination there is. Women have been treated without respect, due to their gender. Women are expected to act proper, and to do what they're told. Throughout the book To Kill a Mockingbird, gender discrimination is prevalent with the character Scout. Her aunt Alexandra constantly points out the fact that Scout's behavior is very unladylike. Alexandra is quick to call out at the fact that Scout should wear dresses and not her overalls. This becomes hurtful to Scout because all she wants is her aunt's love and approval. Scout also starts to become citizen by her brother. He constantly rags on her because she’s a girl. When the children are younger, Scout is seen more as her brother's equal, but as Jem matures and grows apart, he too becomes more critical of Scout's behavior and actions. "Scout, I’m tellin‘ you for the last time, shut your trap or go home—I declare to the Lord you’re gettin’ more like a girl every day!" –Jem Finch. Jem uses this as a derogatory term towards Scout, because he knows that she takes offense to it. When Jem uses this, Scout immediately does what Jem wants because she’s too proud to back down, and loves to prove Jem wrong. Jem is showing superiority because he is her older brother, and also the fact he is male. When Jem starts to grow up and grows apart from Scout, he tells her she needs to grow up and start acting like a girl. This hurts Scout because she takes pride in her tomboy attitude, but also the fact that she has acted more like a male to gain her brother's respect. Lee sets the novel in Alabama in the 1930's to show the importance of acting like a southern belle. The ladies are well dressed, have social clubs, and know their place within society. Through Scout's experience, racial prejudice is the main type of discrimination, but Lee is showing that gender discrimination has the same amount of impact. She's also showing that becoming prejudice starts at a young age. Scout is only six when her family starts to voice their opinions on her behavior and attempting to change who she is as a person. This leads Scout to have to cling on to what makes her unique, and also makes her resentful towards her aunt and brother throughout the book. While Scout...
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