Courage to Confront Prejudice

Topics: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, American literature, Tom Sawyer Pages: 7 (2746 words) Published: November 12, 2006
"Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand's of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood" (Martin Luther King, Jr.). Some of the nation's greatest fictional characters epitomize this passage in their everyday lives. Jem, Scout and Huck not only have the courage to affect our nation, but they do so as children. They, along with countless others, show their courage through the actions of their hearts. According to them, courage is not the absence of fear, but the willpower to face it. These characters, from the novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, and To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, exemplify the positive importance to have the courage to confront all kinds of prejudice in society, family, and oneself. Society proves to be a big faction in the lives of the characters of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird. The characters are constantly obliged to be like the others of their communities, otherwise they have a chance of being rejected because they are simply different. However, they decide to stand up for what is right, and they act on the parts of those who really are different and cannot defend themselves on their own. However, prejudice is not only exposed to African Americans in the novels as many people believe. It is also made known to the people of different class or social ranks. In To Kill a Mockingbird, many people prove their own prejudice towards not only the Ewell's, but also to the Cunningham's, and the same thing happens in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, where society tends to spurn Pap. Although, most of the time, the Ewell's deserve the prejudice that has come upon them, they sometimes do have the right to prove themselves to be the good, fine people that anyone can be. Pap is characterized as the drunken, no-good father of Huckleberry, but no one really gets a chance to find out what real potential he might have as a fine individual (Twain 1251-1253). The Cunningham's, nonetheless, are discriminated against because they are farmers and they are lower-class people. When Aunt Alexandra narrow-mindedly judges Walter Cunningham, Scout's friend, and groups his family as a "yappy" bunch, Scout stands up to her and says that even though he may not be like Jem, he still is a good person who deserves to be treated like one (Lee 223-224). Scout, here, begins to realize the hypocrisy and prejudice that some of her own family has against other people who are different from them. The chief effect of having courage to face prejudice takes place while defending black individuals. In some instances, not even the main characters are the ones who stand up for these people and their rights. "[...] In To Kill a Mockingbird, the African-American characters are field hands, maids, and garbage collectors. Only two of them have ever been taught to read" (Johnson, Understanding 85). Although they might not be identified, the people who taught these two colored folks how to read had the audacity to treat these people as their equals, even though no one else considered them that way. They believe that since these colored folks are their equals, they should have the same, or near the same amount of education as that of a white person. Another occurrence in To Kill a Mockingbird when a secondary character helps a colored man happens with Judge Taylor. Jem finds out that Judge Taylor was also on Tom's side in the trial since he appointed Atticus to the position of defending Tom (Lee 215-216). Jem realizes that because of the judge's actions, Tom would have had a better chance of winning the trial, and therefore, proving that Judge Taylor did in fact stand up to prejudice in the courtroom. Another secondary character, Mr. Dolphus Raymond, also shows his courage to defy prejudice in society by marrying a black woman. He explains to Scout and Dill that no explanation, other than whiskey, would get the people of Maycomb to understand why he married a black woman (Lee 200-201)....

Cited: Ahmad, Wasim et al. "Title: To Kill a Mockingbird, Author: Harper Lee." 12 November 1998. Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District. 27 February 2005. .
Johnson, Claudia Durst. To Kill A Mockingbird: Threatening Boundaries. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1994.
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Lee, Harper. To Kill A Mockingbird. Philadelphia: Harper and Row Publishers, 1960.
"The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Mark Twain." Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District. 27 February 2005. .
Twain, Mark. "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Eds. Nina Baym et al. New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1979. 1244-1432.
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