To Kill A Mockingbird: Understanding Prejudice in Our Lives

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We are not born with prejudice; we learn prejudice from our family, community and society at large. These institutions influence how we view the world. Such prejudice is shown in the true story ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, written by Harper Lee in 1960. To quote from this book, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin”. Referencing “To Kill A Mockingbird”, this essay explores prejudice using discourses of race and class.

The small town of Maycomb is set in the deep South, Alabama during the 1930’s. Although events such as the Civil War, which was fought to abolish slavery over 65 years ago, had been and gone, the people of Maycomb were prejudiced against the North because they lost the war. Shortly after the emancipation of the slaves, created an economic depression, as there were no more slaves, so no more free labour. The South blamed the Yankees for their situation. The church had huge power over the way the town lived, as they provided the town with a common belief, Christianity. If a member of the community didn’t want be a part of this chosen religion they were outcast, because they were different, they were feared and that led to being hated by all. The church ruled the townsfolk by using god as their threat; they constructed how everyone in the town saw others and how they were placed on the social ladder. In the social hierarchy, it was obvious that marginalisation was present for there was the upper class (the people who could trace their ancestry all the way back to the Battle of Hastings), middle class (hard working, respected people who were not necessarily wealthy), lower class (the uneducated and unemployed people or “white trash”) and then the Negroes (in the towns-peoples eyes, the Negroes were still slaves).

Institutions construct how people see the world around them through prejudice. These institution direct our discrimination and try to instil in us a certain...
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