Prejudice Affecting Our Societies

Topics: Black people, White people, Pulitzer Prize for Fiction Pages: 5 (1917 words) Published: February 2, 2008
Prejudices Affecting Our Society

In our society, we are able to witness how our prejudices can affect the way people live. At times, there are people who come forward and confront the injustice in our lives and try helping the victims. However, there are numerous occasions were we fail to confront the prejudice, and take no notice of the consequences that may result; this is evident in the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird where the numerous prejudices and injustices heaped upon various characters brings the society itself to moral conflict. We witness first hand how failing to confront various types of prejudices may result large repercussions.

In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, we take notice of three mockingbirds that are victims of different types of prejudice. The main prejudice is discrimination against the coloured people, and how it resulted in an innocent man being killed. In this novel, there is a white man, Atticus, who is in the highest social echelon in the town of Maycomb. He is a knowledgeable, caring, and an understanding man, who decides to do the unspeakable. He chooses to defend a black man who is charged with raping a white woman. When he made his decision to defend a black man, he went against the ways that the town of Maycomb functions by. When his daughter, Scout, asked him why he chose to defend a black, he said, "If I didn't (defend him) I couldn't holy up my head in town, I couldn't represent this country in legislature. I couldn't even tell you and Jem not do something anymore" (pg. 75). This meant that he couldn't live with the guilt of not trying to help an innocent man. Later on, Scout asks him if they are going to win it, and why defend him if we are not, and Atticus answers, "No honey, simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason not to try to w in."(pg. 76) Atticus knew there was little hope of winning a case where a white man's word meant more than a black man's word, but he was the only one that came before court to confront the situation. The town of Maycomb, the society, saw the way Atticus was treated for his decisions, and they saw the way Atticus was able to prove that Tom, the black man being charged, was innocent. Yet, under no circumstances, did they attempt to intervene, or confront the prejudice. The town knew that if people started to speak up, to say their opinions, it result in grave disputes. When Jem and Scout were asking Atticus why people of Maycomb were not on the jury, Atticus answered by saying, "We generally get the juries we deserve. Our stout Maycomb citizens aren't interested, in the first place. In second place, they're afraid." (pg. 221) Here, Atticus mentions that the citizens are afraid, they are afraid of voicing their opinions, afraid that the town will split, and the consequences may be severe. Yet, because they fail to confront the prejudice, an innocent black was killed, even though all evidence proved that he should have been a free man.

In addition to racism, this novel deals with many other types of prejudices, which affect the society greatly. Another major prejudice is the one against the poor. In the past, the poor were seen as the lowest of Maycomb's social structure. In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, the Ewells are the poorest people in this society. When Atticus is telling Scout about the Ewells, he tells her that the Ewells had been the disgrace of Maycomb for three generations. They have never done an honest day of work. The children only go the first day of school, and never come back. The Ewells are frowned upon in many ways; for instance, the head of the family, Bob Ewell, is considered in Atticus's eyes ‘white trash'. He is rude, arrogant, selfish, and extremely lazy. The Maycomb society has to comprise with him because he spends his relief checks on whiskey, instead of feeding his starving children. Bob Ewell does not only drink continuously, but he also takes pleasure in mocking the blacks, for...
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