Prejudice In To Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee

1146 Words5 Pages

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee tells a story of racial prejudice during the Depression and how it is combated. The main development in the novel is that a Atticus, the father of Scout and Jem, has been appointed to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a young white woman named Mayella. Many people in the town of Maycomb, particularly people involved with the case of Tom, have a negative attitude towards African Americans. Prejudice was a terrible issue in the South during the Depression, but Atticus Finch shows that racial injustice can be combated in two main ways, each having different levels of effectiveness. One way to combat prejudice is to show racially biased people that their ideas are wrong. Atticus does this by …show more content…

Another way to combat prejudice is by teaching against it to the upcoming generation. Atticus teaches Scout and Jem that demoralizing vocabulary should not be used, especially against black people. He says to them, “nigger-lover is just one of those terms that don 't mean anything—like snot-nose. It 's hard to explain—ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody 's favoring Negroes over and above themselves. It 's slipped into usage with some people like ourselves, when they want a common, ugly term to label somebody.” (Lee 124) Atticus points out how terrible certain terms are as well as the people that use them. This encourages the children not to use terms like this so as not to become one of these terrible people. The children learn from him that despite how unpopular it is to love and/or support someone or a group of people, you should love everyone despite race or rank. He explains, “I do my best to love everybody... I 'm hard put, sometimes—baby, it 's never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn 't hurt you." (Lee 124) With this quote Atticus not only teaches Scout and Jem to love everyone, but also not to let anyone or anything get in the way of you doing that. Lastly, Atticus shows the children not only that some people are simply bad people, but also that you should not do the bad things they do. He says, “As you grow older, you 'll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don 't you forget it—whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash." (Lee 250) Atticus explains the harshness of the way white men treat and act around black people. He tells them that there is not excuse for behavior like that, and so the children choose not to act that way. This method of combating prejudice can be very effective on the children being taught,

Open Document