Racism and Prejudice in To Kill a Mockingbird Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 25 May 2016

Racism and Prejudice in To Kill a Mockingbird

In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, an African American, named Tom Robinson, is accused of raping a white girl. Throughout the story we learn that Maycomb County, Alabama is full of people who are considered to be racist. From the beginning, even before Robinson’s trial began, everyone believed that he would be found guilty. At the end of Robinson’s trial he is found guilty. Another issue throughout the novel is many of the citizens of Maycomb are prejudice against others in the town, such as Boo Radley.

A statement one may conclude after reading To Kill a Mockingbird is that racism and prejudice are comparable to habits. Racism, prejudice, and habits may be acquired by watching and listening one’s family, as well as others one interacts with, from a young age. Both racism and prejudice, like most habits, can be broken with some effort and a set mind, but one must first understand what it is they are doing wrong. To understand what is wrong with one’s behavior one might seek an adult or someone they respect to explain what it is that is wrong and why it may be considered wrong.

In Harper Lee’s, To Kill a Mockingbird, the character development throughout the story shows that racism and prejudice are acquired through one’s interaction with others and that it is possible to break these mindsets. Throughout the majority of this book Scout is afraid of Boo Radley, but towards the end, after Boo Radley carries Scout’s brother home, she realizes he is not such a bad person after all (270). Scout is only afraid of Boo Radley because of the rumors she heard about him from others that she interacted with.

Once Scout actually met Boo Radley herself she realized he is not scary, he just keeps to himself. The fact that Scout has an opinion about Boo Radley before actually meeting him shows that she is influenced by others around her. One may not consider this a favorable characteristic, but it is relatable to everyday life. The majority of people are easily influenced or know someone who is easily influenced, so one may comprehend more easily why racism and prejudice exist.

A similar situation to the last one takes place in the beginning of the book. Most of the people in the book know very little about Boo Radley, but “[a]ccording to Miss Stephanie…As Mr. Radley passed by, Boo drove the scissors into his parent’s leg, pulled them out, wiped them on his pants, and resumed his activities” (11). Miss Stephanie tells the children and others this which causes the children and the others to form a prejudicial view about Boo Radley without ever having met him.

The fact that Miss Stephanie’s statement affected others’ opinions about Boo shows how one’s statement can affect the logical reasoning of others. The others had no way of knowing if Miss. Stephanie’s statement was true or not, yet they still believed her. One may come to the conclusion that others believe something one says just to feel accepted or included.

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