Unreasonable Social Norms In To Kill A Mockingbird

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To Kill a Mockingbird
Prejudice exists everywhere, but not with everyone. Some people choose to defy it, especially if it seems unreasonable, or immoral. This is found throughout the book To Kill a Mockingbird. In Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout learns to defy unreasonable social norms, and unfair ones as well, by the action of adults around her, namely Atticus and Miss Maudie Atkinson. By gardening while wearing men’s overall, Miss Maudie shows Scout that you do not always have to conform to the social norm of women only wearing dresses to be respected. By risking his life, and going above and beyond to defend Tom Robinson and help his family, her father, Atticus Finch taught Scout to defy the racism that permeate Maycomb.
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Miss Maudie, although ignoring the norm and wearing a men overalls, she also adheres to the social norm by wearing a dress. What Scout learns from Miss Maudie, is being true to herself, which she expresses when arguing back to her Aunt Alexandra that “...one could be a ray of sunshine in pants as well…”(108). suggesting her tomboyish nature and a dislike of wearing dresses. She also learns to be outspoken, a trait she mimicked from Miss Maudie. Scout expresses this when she was excluded from Jem and Dill’s little adventure to drop off a note to the Radley’s front door, “Will not. This yard’s as much mine as it is yours, Jem Finch. I got just as much right to play in it as you have.”(61). Scout also learns to wear a dress once in awhile, just like Miss Maudie, to perform her societal duty as a female around others, such as during one of Alexandra’s missionary circle meetings, “I was wearing my pink Sunday dress, shoes, and a petticoat…”(306). It is possible that Miss Maudie is the reason why Scout prefers pants over dresses, and the reason Scout have a sharp tongue at some times. While Miss Maudie have a great effect on Scout, Atticus have a greater effect on…show more content…
Examples of defying unfair social norms can be seen throughout history in times of inequality, such as the speaking out against the Jim Crow laws, or speaking for immigrant rights. Things change because of people who, like Miss Maudie, and Atticus, set a spark which will most likely influence future generations, in this case Scout and Jem, to take action for inequality and other issues, and challenge them to defy narrow-minded social norms. Scout being influenced by Atticus and Miss Maudie shaped who she is as a person. If the setting was different however, such as in the 1700s-1800s, when slavery was still legal, Scout may have grown up very differently from the To Kill A Mockingbird, counterpart, mostly more racist, and more white
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