Theme Of Biases In To Kill A Mockingbird

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Set in the southern United States during the height of the Great Depression, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, it is predictable that the time’s biases and prejudices play a role in the novel. However, the extent of this discrimination and strict expectations of conformity found in the novel is surprising. The book, which follows Scout, a young girl growing up in the sleepy town of Maycomb, Alabama, illustrates the different ways in which the members of the community treat others based on their races, conformity to societal standards, and upholding of the biases of the time. The case of Tom Robinson is the clearest example of the prejudices that permeated most communities in the southern region of the United States. Robinson is charged…show more content…
An example of this is Arthur “Boo” Radley, a recluse, who is rarely seen outside since his childhood. Rumors flew about him among the town’s children. In the beginning of the novel, Scout explains the various superstitions associated with him: on dark nights, he peeped through people’s windows, flowers froze because he had breathed on them, and fruits and nuts that came from trees near the Radley house were poisonous. These notions cause Radley to be seen as a sort of phantom or ghost in Scout’s mind, similar to the Boogeyman. Scout eventually discovers that Radley’s behavior was not of his own volition, but rather due to a cruel and abusive father, and learns to see things from his perspective. However, the majority of the town’s residence retains their distaste for the man who did no harm outside of not conforming to their standards of “normal.” Even those who refuse to uphold the time’s biases were looked down upon. For example, Atticus Finch, Scout’s father, becomes an outcast to much of Maycomb, despite the fact that he is a white man with a good family history who in most ways behaves completely ordinarily, simply because he is the lawyer who defends Tom Robinson. By taking Robinson’s case, he condemns himself and his family to threats, harassment and slander. Some of his more distant relatives accuse him of “ruining the family name,” and Scout is bullied for being the child of a
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