To Kill a Mockingbird: Portrayal of Prejudice and Discrimination

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To Kill a Mocking Bird

“Cry about the simple hell people give other people- without even thinking” My considered opinion of this novel in the light of this comment.

If Harper Lee had limited her portrayal of prejudice and discrimination merely to the trial of Tom Robinson, a victim of the most virulent form of racial prejudice, “To Kill a Mockingbird” would probably be little more than a historical footnote. Wisely, though, Lee manages to tie racial prejudice to the many other forms of prejudice we all face every day of our life. Remarkably, the novel begins by focusing not on the racial prejudice that dominates much of the story but, instead, on the kind of insidious prejudice endured by those who dare to be different in a small-town neighborhood. While Scout’s early description of Boo seems comical on its face, it takes on very different connotations when we realize that this prejudice reinforces the harsh punishment inflicted on Arthur “Boo” Radley by his domineering father: Inside the house lived a malevolent phantom. People said he existed, but Jem and I had never seen him. People said he went out at night when the moon was down, and peeped in windows. When people's azaleas froze in a cold snap, it was because he had breathed on them. Any stealthy small crimes committed in Maycomb were his work. Once the town was terrorized by a series of morbid nocturnal events: people's chickens and household pets were found mutilated; although the culprit was Crazy Addie, who eventually drowned himself in Barker's Eddy, people still looked at the Radley Place, unwilling to discard their initial suspicions.

Obviously Scout and her older brother Jem, because they are young, are not immune to the kind of ridiculous prejudice that follows those who, for one reason or another, are different from those around them. Jem describes Boo as dining “on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that's why his hands...
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