To Kill a Mocking Bird: Types of Discrimination and Reader Adaptation

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Elizabeth Estes
Phase 5 IP Final IP

The Harper Lee novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” demonstrates many different types of discrimination and relates to the reader how easily people adapt to social discriminations. In the beginning of the story Atticus Finch has two children who are without their mother due to being deceased. A small boy by the name of Dill shows up and becomes friends with the two children. Immediately the youngest of the children, Scout Finch starts to ask questions about her new friend’s family. Scout wants to know what happened to this boy’s father and why does Dill not know where he is. Dill’s father is the president of a railroad and therefore never around. Scout has evidently shown signs of being sheltered. The only way a mom and dad were not supposed to be together was due to death. This I felt was the first small sign of discrimination inside the children. These children did not know any better this is how the children had been taught. Harper makes a point by having the children discuss death. In a statement that reads, “You mean when someone is dying you can smell it?” Dill mentions how and older lady taught him that. Harper makes the reader realize how much children are easily influenced. Children take what older people say and make it as good as law, Harper makes this clear in her story to the readers.

Jem Finch who was the oldest of Atticus’ children told the story to Dill and Scout about Mr. Bo Radley and the Radley house. This was another form of discrimination, disability discrimination. Bo Radley was not like normal children growing up. Bo Radley was not like normal young adults. Bo Radley was mentally handicapped and learned slower than others. Harper also uses different ways to let the reader connect to the difference in the thought process of Bo Radley rather than the normal thought process made by Atticus’ children. The statement, “Don’t you know you are not supposed to touch the trees over there? You’ll get killed if you do!” Harper developed the discrimination between the children and that Radley house very easily with statements made like these. Children grew up telling stories of the Radley house due to lack of interaction with the Radley’s. Children are the easiest people to influence within a community. Since the Radley’s seemed so secretive and reserved people within the community thought they were weird. Bo secretly went to a tree to place objects inside for the children to get. This was a form of communication for Bo; Jem thought it was strange to find these objects inside a tree. One day Jem found two statues of a girl and a boy that represented Scout and himself. Mr. Radley came and filled the hole in with some kind of material so that nothing else could be placed inside. To me this was so that no more communication with these children could be made this way. I figure Mr. Radley thought someone might think of his son in the wrong way, surprisingly they already had.

The day finally came when Atticus decided to take on a criminal case that involved a black man accused of raping a white woman. Atticus was approached the victim’s father trying to assure himself that Atticus was not intending on representing this colored man. The victim’s father Bob Ewell thought that because he was prejudice that everyone in the community was prejudice. Atticus was an honest and equal man, he never even mentioned to his own children the type of case he was about to argue.

The children were ridiculed at school for their father’s decision to represent this colored man. The other children would taunt the kids about their father representing a black man. It almost seemed like the idea of a black person even making it to a court trial was unheard of. All colored people were guilty and killed for committing crimes it seemed. Scout was a very defensive little girl who stood up for her father, Atticus. Scout would get into fights at school over what her father was doing. Scout...
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