A Study of the Different Types of Prejudice Depicted in 'to Kill a Moc

Topics: Black people, White people, Racism Pages: 14 (3985 words) Published: March 31, 2000
A Study of the Different Kinds of Prejudice in, ‘To Kill A Mockingbird'

Prejudice is the preconceived opinion of a person or thing. There are three main types of prejudice: racial prejudice, social prejudice and religious prejudice. These three are the types of prejudice most dominant in ‘To Kill A Mockingbird'.

The setting for the novel is a fictitious town called Maycomb. This town is situated in Alabama, south USA. The racial prejudice shown in the novel has a lot to do with the town being situated in the southern United States. This is because there was a lot of racism in the southern United States in the 1930's. This racism mainly originated from the civil war, which lasted from 1875 to 1883. The northern, more progressive states declared slavery illegal, but slavery was a vital part of the southern economy as the labour was cheap for the cotton plantation owners. Although the northern states made it illegal to have slaves the south still kept slaves illegally. This was the main cause of the civil war. The northern states won the war and the United States was formed. Even though they lost the war, the south passed their own ‘Jim Crow Laws' in the 1900's making racial segregation legal.

The backwardness and narrow-mindedness of the community fuelled racism in Maycomb. These negative qualities account for the social and religious prejudices in the novel. The community's narrow-mindedness is formed because the population has been unchanged for many decades with the same families occupying the town. This causes prejudice towards anything that is different from the norm. Maycomb is very backward and isolated due to the town being far from the river, which was the main form of transport in the early days. This confines the town's development and leads to the social conditioning of the people this in turn helps to explain why there is social and religious prejudice. Maycomb people have very inward looking views and so these views are passed on from generation to generation.

Maycomb town is described well in chapter 1 as it tells us why the people are so insular and inward looking.

"Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town."

This statement puts a negative light on Maycomb and its people. The personification of the word tired emphasises the lack of enthusiasm, about everything, the people of Maycomb have. It also suggests an unwillingness and lack of desire to change this fact. ‘Tired' also indicates that the town is very monotonous and new concepts are not welcome. There is also the repetition of the word ‘old' which gives the impression of a dirty decaying town. This emphasises how old fashioned and backward the town is. The paragraph also describes how the town is not looked after by anyone.

"In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop"

This shows the slowness of the towns progression, as there aren't tarmac roads only olden dirt tracks.

"grass grew on the side walks"

This shows neglect, as there is obviously no town caretakers employed by the local authority. This again reinforces the idea of the weariness of the town's people. The description of the courthouse puts a negative light on the way the town is kept.

"The courthouse sagged in the square"

This again shows the peoples tiredness, as they don't bother to fix the courthouse, to make it look as prestigious and glamorous as it should from the outside. There is complete lack of willingness to change things in Maycomb. This attitude helps the people to be prejudiced against anything different from their norm. This attitude is also influenced by the fact that Maycomb is a fairly financially poor place. The reason for this is mainly the depression in the 1930s where the agricultural areas of southern USA suffered severely. There wasn't any money for maintenance as all the money was used to survive.

The community's outlook on life is very insular.

"nowhere to go, nothing...
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