Introduction Prejudice refers to the judgements towards a person because of their race, social class, age, disability or sexual orientation. (Cherry, “What is Prejudice?”) Prejudice was, and still is, to a large extent experienced by people all over the world. It is a theme that is presented in so many works of literature in a plethora of different ways. One of the most prominent ways in which prejudice is explored is through the use of characters that perhaps are a different nationality or have a different orientation to the majority of the other characters in the works. Two texts, in which the theme is presented in an admirable way , are ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee, and ‘Jasper Jones’ by Craig Silvey. Through the use of the protagonists the theme is presented in a way that allows the reader to realize the harsh reality of the subject matter, yet it is still demonstrated in a approachable and relatable way, further enhanced by the first-person narration of the books. These two characters, as well as some of the lesser characters in the books, and the literary devices used throughout the works, allow light to be shed on the theme of prejudice. During 1930s America, and 1960s Australia, racial prejudice was at its highest point, with African- Americans, and Aborigines, treated as a second class, and forbidden to have the privileges that white people had. Both texts deal with a specific sequence of events in which readers can infer the prejudicial aspect of life in that era. Not only do the books deal with different nationalities and different time periods, but it can be argued that Craig Silvey’s novel is simply a product of Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and this will also be looked at throughout this essay.
Contextual Information Racism in America was profound during the early part of the 20th century and the most often used racism came in the form of hatred towards the African-Americans. The migration of African Americans happened during 1910-1930 and sparked the black-white segregation in America. (Berlin, “The African Immigration to Colonial America). The African-Americans were treated as property, as second class citizens and this did not come to a halt until the Institution of Slavery was abolished. Even today this segregation can be seen in some areas, as in some metropolitan neighbourhoods the blacks and whites live differently, and experience a different quality of life. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee is an iconic tale that tells the story of this prejudice, and other forms of prejudice in small town America. It is set in 1930’s Alabama and follows the story of two children, Scout and Jem, as they aim to get the neighbourhood “spook”, Boo Radley out of his home. Meanwhile, their father, Atticus is meanwhile defending a black man, Tom Robinson, who was wrongly accused by two white people, in the court of law. Atticus’ main rival, Bob Ewell, attacks Jem and Scout and who is to come to their rescue but Boo Radley himself, teaching Scout, our narrator, that everyone has the right and ability to be a good or bad person, and race, or social hierarchy has nothing to do with it. Australia also dealt with racism and prejudice towards a different race - the Aboriginals. Ignorance and misunderstanding of the aboriginal culture lead to the mistreatment of them, and even today this racism can be found with those who do not believe that Aboriginals are people, but are instead flora and fauna which was politically correct until 1967. (Wangka Maya) ‘Jasper Jones’ by Craig Silvey is set in Western Australia during 1965, and follows the story of young Charlie Bucktin after he is let in on a secret one night. The towns mixed-race ‘bad boy’, Jasper Jones, has found the body of his good friend Laura Wishart. Jasper knows he will get blamed for the murder if he says anything, and convinces Charlie to help him hide the body until they uncover the truth. Whilst doing so they face racism and hypocrisy and...
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Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: J.B Lippincott & Co, 1960. Print.
Silvey, Craig. Jasper Jones. London: Windmill Books, 2009. Print.
"Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre." Wangka Maya Pilbara Aboriginal Language Centre. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Aug. 2012. .
Cherry, Kendra. "What Is Prejudice?" About.com Psychology. About.com, n.d. Web. 15 July 2012. .
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