Prejudice is shown in many ways in To Kill a Mocking Bird. From social prejudice against the Cunninghams to racial prejudice against Tom Robinson, the book has displayed many aspects of how people can look through the window and see things completely differently than the person beside them. A form of social prejudice is when Aunt Alexandra forbid Scout to play with Walter Cunningham, a poor boy whom Scout attends school with. This is because Aunt Alexandra sees Walter and his family as poor and beneath the Finches, in her words,” … they’re good folks.
But they’re not our kind of folks. ” This shows that to the Maycomb citizens, social status is an extremely important issue. Also, in Tom Robinson’s case, Aunt Alexandra also advices Atticus not to take up the case, as it would cause the people of Maycomb to look down on them or gossip about them. Hence this shows that people in Maycomb like Aunt Alexandra are extremely conscious about where they stand in the society. Maycomb is a very religious town with the foot-washing Baptists appearing to have a strong influence on the community.
The foot-washers have very strict views and believe that anything which is pleasurable is a sin. They are therefore prejudiced against a great deal of people who are different from them with different opinions. An example of their prejudice is when Miss Maudie says, “some of ‘em came out of the woods one Saturday and passed by this place and told me and my flowers we were going to hell”. Their belief is so extreme that they feel they should threaten those who enjoy life. Another example of religious prejudice is the isolation of the Radleys.
This isolation is due to the Radley family not attending church which is Maycomb’s “ principal recreation ”The Radleys suffer religious prejudice because they keep themselves to themselves, apart from everyone else. This action is considered a disapproval by the people of Maycomb. Also, Mrs Radley hardly ever “ crossed the street for a mid-morning coffee break with her neighbours ”, this is also deemed unfriendly and unforgivable by the people of Maycomb hence the isolated of the Radleys.
A form of racial prejudice can be seen from the trial of Tom Robinson. Tom Robinson is a black man who was found guilty of a rape he didn’t commit. The racial prejudice nature of Maycomb is clearly portrayed through such instances as the fact that Atticus is accused by the town of being a “nigger lover” for defending Tom’s case and also through the mob scene outside the jail. The fact that a white man would stand up for a black man in that town got them very upset. “Yeah, but Atticus aims to defend him. That’s what I don’t like about it”.
The people are also not pleased that Atticus tried his best to defend Tom Robinson It is in the Tom Robinson trial that the greatest example of injustice because of prejudice is seen. The townspeople did not care whether Tom was innocent or guilty because of his color and never even gave him a chance because he was black. Although Atticus actually manages to prove the innocence of Tom Robinson, the white jury still refuses to declare the innocence of a black man over a white resulting in the most blatant testimony to the fact that the town of Maycomb held racial discrimination above justice.
Through its decision the town essentially kills a mockingbird. Tom Robinson was a man who did no harm to others but instead actually helped others out of kindness – a mockingbird who becomes victim to a racist society. Another form of racial prejudice is how inhumane the white are towards the black. The townspeople viewed this case as a carnival. “It was a gala occasion. There was no room at the public hitching trail for another animal, mules and wagons were parked under every available tree.
The courthouse square was covered with picnic parties sitting on newspapers, washing down biscuit and syrup with warm milk from fruit jars”. This was more like entertainment for the townspeople. This was fun for them, talking with friends, having lunch, and joking. They were there only to watch the trial like as if they were watching a show, they were only curious about the verdict of Tom Robinson’s case and were not concern about his predicament. This shows the prejudice in the white that caused them to be extremely cruel.
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