To Kill a Mockingbird Essay

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Maycomb, Alabama, during the 1930’s was a place replete with prejudice and social hierarchy. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is set in this small, southern town and reveals the conflicts associated with the injustice of prejudice and social class. The main characters in Lee’s novel must face the pressures of this oppressive environment. Specifically, Tom Robinson’s trial robs the children of their innocence as well as sheds light on the effects of prejudice, and social class. Tom Robinson is the character most affected by racism. First, Tom is considered guilty before he even sets foot in the courtroom. Even the jury that is supposed to be fair starts off with feelings of racism against Tom that has been embedded in their hearts. Although both the defendant and prosecutor are both looked upon with disdain from the majority of society, Tom’s word does not stand up against the word of a white woman. This is confirmed by Scout’s thoughts: ‘Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed’ (pg.276). No wrong has been committed on Tom’s part except for the fact that he has been born with a different skin colour. Prejudice against Tom is noticeably conveyed in Mr. Gilmer’s treatment towards Tom. He shows rudeness and contempt towards Tom by calling him a “boy” (pg.223). Also, he asks Tom, “did you do all this from sheer goodness, boy?”(pg.224) making Tom seem like he had a dishonorable ulterior motive. Compared to Atticus’s respectful and equal treatment of all witnesses, Mr. Gilmer is too one-sided and treats Tom impolitely while doing the exact opposite for the white witnesses. However, while Mayella Ewell is white, she is still faced with social prejudice because of her family name, Ewell. As Bob Ewell behaves uncivilized in their small, closely knit community, all the Ewells are treated as white trash. Mayella has had to face this problem her entire life because other people in the society did not want to have anything to do with her...
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