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Prejudice in To Kill a Mockingbird

By ballsack22 May 21, 2014 1234 Words

Persecution County
In today’s society, not unlike societies of the past, there continues to be justice and injustice in our world. In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, there is an emphasis on the mistreatment of individuals due to the colour of their skin in Maycomb County. Throughout the novel it is evident that there is an enormous prejudice towards coloured people through the treatment of Tom Robinson, Dolphus Raymond, and Atticus Finch.

Simply due to the colour of Tom Robinson’s skin he is wrongly convicted of rape. There is strong evidence that supports the innocence of Tom yet is ignored due to the prejudice towards coloured people. This evidence includes the placement and type of injuries, capability of individual, and the lack of concern for Mayella Ewell’s injuries. If the jury looked past the colour of the suspect they would easily see that Tom was not guilty and Bob Ewell was the true culprit for this horrendous act. Jem Finch was one of the few who would not persecute but he examined the evidence brought forth and then made his decision. This was displayed when Jem was certain that Atticus was going to win the case when Reverend Sykes spoke up and said, “Now don’t you be so confident, Mr.Jem, I ain’t ever seen any jury decide in favor of a colored man over a white man” (279). This quote gives the reader an insight into the automatic conviction of coloured people despite evidence provided in Maycomb County. This reinforces that the colour of the suspect’s skin determines the verdict in defiance of if the suspect is truly liable. This is accurately portrayed when Atticus is giving his final plea to the jury and says, “This case is as simple as black and white” (271). In this one line Atticus is able to summarize the whole trial. The jury had a choice, whether to believe a white man with little to no evidence or a black man that has strong evidence to support his innocence. An old saying is that the past can predict the future, which is quite evident in this trial. The coloured man is prosecuted for no other reason than he is black. In Maycomb County the coloured man was and still is known as the convictable delinquent. Consequently, Tom Robinson was subject to the persecution of black people in Maycomb County and never had a chance in court.

Dolphus Raymond is looked down upon by his peers due to his lifestyle choice of preferring to associate with black people. The majority of Maycomb County has a belief system that Dolphus Raymond does not follow which causes him to be perceived as a sinful man. Mr. Raymond is criticized and subject to destructive comments due to his conception of black people as it differs from the average Maycomb County citizen. This alienation is all due towards his abnormal preference to enjoy the presence of coloured people. The reason Mr. Raymond receives this repulsive treatment is because of the prejudice towards the people he tends to associate with. The bulk of Maycomb County knows of him and even children know about his tendency to be with the coloured people as represented by Jem when he says, “He likes’ em better’n he likes us, I reckon” (214). This displays the fact that even children who have limited knowledge know that there are distinct groups in Maycomb County. The two groups are split by ethnicity - black and white. Mr. Raymond is the one exception in Maycomb who prefers to be in the other group. In Maycomb County, this is considered an insult that a white man would rather be with black people over them. Mr. Raymond is also known for being a drunk but is explained when he says, “I try to give ‘em a reason, you see. It helps folks if they latch onto a reason. When I come to town, which is seldom, if I weave a little and drink out of this sack, folks can say Dolphus Raymond’s in the clutches of whiskey- that’s why he won’t change his ways. He can’t help himself, that’s why he lives the way he does” (268). This confession means that Mr. Raymond pretends to be intoxicated to help others see his way of life. He knows the community has a prejudice towards coloured people so he makes his way of life presentable to them. The community would think of Mr. Raymond as an even more repulsive person if he did not act this way because of bulk of the community’s views towards coloured people. Therefore, Dolphus Raymond has to provide an illusion to make his way of life more acceptable because of the prejudice towards coloured people.

Atticus was harassed for no other reason than that Atticus represented Tom Robinson in court which the majority of the community felt was undoubtedly guilty due to prejudice. Atticus had the moral obligation to help Tom as he knew that Tom was wrongfully accused and he was tormented verbally by his own community for this. He would receive criticism and hostility from nearly everyone he encountered not including the harmful comments made to his children. All of this bitterness rooted from none other than who Atticus defended in court. Even Atticus’ family opposed his decision to defend Tom which was exemplified when Francis said this, “he’s turned out a nigger-lover we’ll never be able to walk the streets of Maycomb again. He’s ruinin’ the family, that’s what he’s doin’.” (110). This illustrates the hatred towards black people as they are thought of as the lowest form of people in Maycomb County. The Finch family has such dissatisfaction with Atticus’ client that they see him as a failure to them. The Finch Family does not even know Tom Robinson as a person yet they make these enormous assumptions that he is a monstrous man due to his skin colour. The hatred towards Atticus even came to the point where Jem and Scout were scared for their lives after this happened, “Mr. Bob Ewell stopped Atticus on the post office corner, spat in his face, and told him he’d get him if it took the rest of his life” (290). For Mr. Ewell to threaten Atticus to such an extent exemplifies how negatively he felt towards black people. Mr. Ewell was willing to threaten a man to such an extent merely over Atticus believing a black man over him. This is just one of the many representations of how firmly the majority of Maycomb County prejudice towards coloured people as one person is driven to almost insanity over the colour of Atticus’ client’s skin. Finally, Atticus is condemned to harmful comments and utter disgust by others for no other reason than the colour of his client’s skin.

Throughout the novel it is quite evident that there are countless injustices displayed but none as conspicuous as racial prejudice. Tom Robinson, Dolphus Raymond, and Atticus are all subject to this ignorant belief and serve appalling punishments. Tom ends up convicted and later deceased, Raymond is still subject to harmful comments looked at distastefully, and Atticus almost lost his children. Prejudice is an unnecessary injustice that is rooted from nothing other than ignorance that if resolved would improve the lives of nearly everyone.

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