The Theme of Prejudice in \'To Kill A Mocking Bird\'


The theme of prejudice in To Kill A Mockingbird is much more than just a

case of black and white. The entire novel is about prejudice in it\'s many forms, the

most prominent case of prejudice is the racism and hate between the blacks and

whites. The whole town of Maycomb is based on stereotypes of it\'s inhabitants,

that are passed down from generation to generation. Rumors run rampid and very

little truth is usually in them.

"So Jem received most of his information from Miss Stephanie Crawford, a neighbor scold, she said she knew the whole thing. According to Miss Stephanie, Boo was sitting in the livingroom cutting some items from The Maycomb Tribune to paste in his scrapbook. His father entered the room. As Mr.Radley passed by, Boo drove the scissors into his parent\'s leg, pulled them out, wiped them on his pants, and resumed his activities." (Chapter 1, page 11)

I don\'t see how you can\'t expect to have prejudice in a

small town like that, after all isolation is a major factor in why prejudice and

racism arise.

"Men hate each other because they fear each other,
and they fear each other because
they don\'t know each other,
and they don\'t know each other because
they are often separated from each other. "
-Martin Luther King


The stereotypes in this novel are fairly common but the fact that they are

accepted and used so openly in public is what astonishes me. I think people in the

community, even if they do disagree with what is being said or done, they will say

or do nothing because they are afraid of going against the majority of the

community and become a victim of prejudice themselves. Atticus was one of the

few who actually stopped and listened to himself without being biased by the views

and opinions of the rest of the town. He then had the courage to stand up and take

prejudice himself for trying to correct the prejudice against a black man, and prove

his innocence.

"Scout, you aren\'t old enough to understand some things yet, but there\'s been some high
talk around town to the effect that I shouldn\'t do much about defending this man. It\'s a
peculiar case-it won\'t come to trial until summer session. John Taylor was kind enough to give us a postponement..."
"If you shouldn\'t be defendin\' him, then why are you doin\' it?"
"For a number of reasons," said Atticus. "The main one is, if I didn\'t I couldn\'t hold my
head in town, I couldn\'t represent this county in the legislature, I couldn\'t even tell you or Jem not to do something again."
(Chapter 9, page 75)

I think Harper Lee did an excellent job of portraying a small town and gave

a convincing sense of community and the way small towns are. The prejudice in

Maycomb was your typical kind which was based on ignorance. The meaning of

prejudice is Pre-Judge, which is when you pass judgement on something or

someone without having a good reason, therefore almost all prejudice is based on

ignorance. Racism is much the same because your passing judgement on the color

of the person\'s skin and not the person themselves. In the story To Kill a Mocking

Bird the prejudice was part of the town because everyone was judged by their last

name or where they come from or their background.

"I rose graciously on Walter\'s behalf: "Ah-Miss Caroline?"
"What is it, Jean Louise?"
"Miss Caroline, he\'s a Cunningham."
I sat back down.
"What, Jean Louise?"
I thought I had made things sufficiently clear. It was clear enough to the rest
of us: Walter Cunningham was sitting there lying his head off. He didn\'t
forget his lunch, he didn\'t have any. He had none today nor would he have
any tomorrow or the next day. He had probably never seen three quarters
together at the same time in his life.
I tried again: "Walter\'s one of the Cunninghams, Miss Caroline."
"I beg your pardon, Jean Louise?"
"That\'s okay, ma\'am, you\'ll get to know all the county folks after a while. The
Cunninghams never took anything they can\'t pay back-no church baskets... "
(Chapter 2, page 20)

That quote isn\'t really prejudice, but it shows how