Harper Lee’s “To kill a Mockingbird”
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To what extent does Harper Lee’s ‘To kill a mockingbird’ illustrate the prejudice of the deep south in the 1930’s’. Maycomb is a town full of rules and regulations, to break one of these ‘expected codes’ is looked upon with upon with disgust. People in Maycomb are deeply engrossed in traditional views such as white people being far superior to the black people of Maycomb. The poor citizens of Maycomb are widely talked about. there is prejudice against the way they live and how they bring their children up. An example of this is with the Ewell child called Burris. Burris goes to school for one day of the school year but then his family need him to work for the rest of the year. The poor children are deprived of their education. Harper Lee illustrates prejudice in the deep south by using subjects such as urban myths, to show his views through certain characters. Boo Radley is just one way in which Harper Lee manages to get the people of Maycomb to show the highest level of prejudice.
People in Maycome are very simple minded in the way they show disrespect to the black community. They are much like the Ku Klux Klan believing that God only put white people on the planet and the negroes are not part of the white people’s beliefs and they must live separate from them. The black community live on the edge of Maycomb. The white men feel very strongly about the white people socialising with only white folks. The men of Maycomb look upon the black community as a race not worth living and they must work hard and for very little if they are to survive in the environment within Maycomb. Atticus is not like all the other white men and takes a lot of insults for not believing the same as them. Harper Lee uses Atticus to teach people in Maycomb that racial issues should not even exist. He does not judge a person by their race or their living environment. Atticus is a lawyer is Maycomb and accepts and form of payment the client can provide. The white people living in the deep south and highly humid Maycomb county insult Atticus by casually calling him a ‘nigger lover.’ He defends his clients whether they are white or black.
The Ewell family are very traditional in their views and they believe a white woman will always be believed over a black man. It is an insult for a black man to call a white woman a liar or for him to pity her. Tom Robinson loses all hope of wining over the white jury when he says he felt sorry for Mayela so did jobs around her house. Jem and Scout hear about the urban myths surrounding the Radley family. the start to become prejudice by the way they play games, they see who is daring enough to touch the Radley door. Due to people’s views of Boo Radley when he was younger, people have never forgot about the way he behaved. Boo use to socialise in large groups and the people of Maycomb always thought they were up to no good. Unfortunately for Boo he became very intoxicated with alcohol and went hoy riding one day. Since Boo’s father told the court he would keep him at home and he would never cause any trouble again people have centred their prejudice around him and what goes on in the Radley house. Great prejudice surrounded the Raleys for many years. Boo made a mistake but the people of Maycomb have made up stories about the Radleys.
Such stories, like the pecan nuts that fall in front of the Radley house are poisonous because they are ‘Radley nuts’. The humid county of Maycomb is home to many stories which are not true but have been made up from the mass of prejudice in people’s minds. The white community cannot understand why Atticus is trying to help a black man when everyone knows to help a black man over a white woman is poorly thought of amongst the whites. The white view is that Black’s are workers and are servants for the white people. ‘Don’t say nigger scout, that’s common’, Atticus tries to bring Scout away from the prejudice against the black people. He tries to teach her that it is better to stay away from the prejudice at school, may it be racial or otherwise. Aunt Alexandria comes to stay with Attticus and wants to get rid of the black influence in their lives; Calpurnia.
She is a traditional character and Harper Lee manages to capture prejudice through the eyes of a white woman very well. She does not think highly of black people and wants scout to dress more like a lady and wonders why Calpurnia has let her get away with looking untidy for so long. Calpurnia takes Scout and Jem to the black church with her one time; this was not what Aunt Alexandria wanted. White children belong with white adults was the view of Aunt Alexandria. Mr Dolphus Raymond was not like every other white person, he wanted to mix with the black people. Dill, being brought up through a traditional family did not see it wrong to be prejudice. In conversation with Jem Dill says ‘He doesn’t look like trash’, this is the expectation of traditional views at that time. If a white person mixes with black people then they are looked upon as ‘trash’.