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To Kill a Mockingbird Essay

By timpossible0 Nov 10, 2013 485 Words
In the 1960 Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird, author Harper Lee develops the idea of prejudice. Lee breaks down the many forms of prejudice and shows them using character and symbolism. The idea of prejudice is explained in such a realistic way that the reader learns from the text and is able to apply this understanding in the society of today. To Kill a Mockingbird is set in Maycomb County, a small township; separate from the outside world, Lee can explain the consequences of prejudice in depth, thus leaving the reader with more of an idea. One of the minor characters that plays an integral part in explaining the consequences of social prejudice is Arthur (Boo) Radley, a harmless quiet man who will be forever judged on his past. Lee develops the idea of prejudice through conversations in Maycomb, having people outcast Boo by only what they have heard and not what they know. This shows the lack of understanding the people of Maycomb have and the superstitious behaviour they possess. Boo Radley over watches Scout and Jem throughout the text keeping a ‘malevolent’ watch on them. While reading this, the audience feels sympathy towards Boo and gains a greater understanding about social prejudice. In the text Lee uses symbolism to portray ideas to the reader. One of the main symbols is that of the mockingbird, this represents innocence. Characters such as Boo Radley and Tom Robinson are said to be mockingbirds as they are convicted for crimes they did not commit. Tom Robinson who is black is accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a woman in the ‘white trash’ class. As the evidence plays out it becomes clear that Tom is innocent, however ‘Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella opened her mouth and screamed.’ The jury know Tom is innocent but convict him for ‘feeling sorry’ for a white woman, this shows racial and social prejudice. Another symbol that is vital in helping the reader understand the effects of prejudice is Mrs Dubose’s white camellias. When Jem becomes frustrated and cuts the heads off her flowers, he is taught a valuable lesson ‘next time you will do it right, next time you will pull them out by the roots’. What this is implying is that if you need to take it out at the source. This case is relating back to the theme of racial prejudice that has infected Maycomb. Lee includes this part in the text so that the reader can understand and apply this tactic in the real world. Throughout To Kill a Mockingbird Lee has developed the idea of prejudice in different ways giving an in depth explanation about the different forms prejudice takes on and the consequences that come with it. Lee develops this idea so the reader can have a good understanding about prejudice and make a change in the society we live in today.

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