Theme Of Discrimination In To Kill A Mockingbird

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Discrimination is the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex. In the book To Kill a Mockingbird, there are various situations concerning discrimination. In the 1930s many people across the nation had extreme prejudices against people of color. [The various forms of discrimination in To Kill a Mockingbird include racism, social class heirarchy, and sexism.]

In To Kill a Mockingbird, there are very clear prejudices against people of color. The biggest example of this in the novel is during Tom Robinson’s trial. Atticus makes it extremely clear that Tom is innocent, however the juries prejudices against people of color influence their decision and blinds them from the obvious facts in front of them. “ ‘Now don’t be so confident Mr. Jem, I ain’t ever seen any jury decide in favor of a colored man over a white man…’ ”(Lee 208). Another example of racism in Maycomb is when Miss Gates is describing how bad Hitler is and that what he’s doing to the Jews is bad. However, at the court she says, “’s time somebody taught ‘em a lesson, they were gettin’ way above themselves, an’ the next thing they think they can do is marry us.” (Lee 247). Miss Gates is talking about how prejudice Hitler is against the Jews yet she is prejudice against people of color. Racism is a “disease” spreading through Maycomb and Atticus is trying feverishly to prevent Scout and Jem from catching it.

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Another form of discrimination in Maycomb is the discrimination against different social classes. This becomes very evident in the beginning of the book during their first few days of school. The first one we see is when Miss Caroline is asking to see everyone's lunch and Walter Cunningham doesn’t have his. Everybody besides Miss Caroline seems to understand why, however she doesn’t understand the system in MAycomb yet. “ ‘Did you forget your lunch this morning?’... ‘Miss Caroline, he's a Cunningham’ ”(Lee 19-20). Another example of this is later in the book when Walter is invited to Scout’s house for dinner. Scout thinks that the way he is eating is weird because he puts a lot of syrup on his food. “ ‘But he’s gone and drowned his dinner in syrup,’ I protested. ‘He’s poured it all over-’ ”(Lee 24). Even though Atticus teaches them to be nice and not judge everyone, this prejudice against the poorer Cunnighams shows the split in Maycomb. The class system shows how even the most moral of people can have prejudices.

The final example of discrimination is the sexism that is shown throughout the book. During most of the book people around Scout criticize her for not being “lady” enough. One example of this is when Aunt Alexandra comes to stay for a while. One thing that is brought up while she is there is that Scout should start to act more like a lady. While with all the adults, Scout is asked questions about her future and how she is dressing. When she doesn’t know some of them they laugh because ladies were supposed to know this type of information. “ ‘Whatcha going to be when you grow up, Jean Louise? A lawyer?’...Hurriedly I began choosing my vocation” (Lee 229-230). Throughout the book, Jem uses the facts the Scout is a girl into convincing her to do certain things. He uses it as an insult and says that if she acts like one then him and Dill won’t play with her. “I was not so sure, but Jem told me I was being a girl, that girls always imagined things, that’s why other people hated them so, and if I started behaving like one I could just go off and find some to play with” (Lee 41). This shows that it wasn’t normal for a girl to be out playing like Scout was.

The discrimination found in To Kill a Mockingbird is very distinct. The social norms in the 1930s were not the same as they are today and a lot of bad things were done because of these prejudices. However, the discrimination against skin solor, social class, and gender continue to pop up, even today. There is still a lot of discrimation in our world today, however the change from the 1930s to today is very evident. There will always be prejudices against people, however with each passing day the world is becoming a better and more accepting place.

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Theme Of Discrimination In To Kill A Mockingbird. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 22, 2024, from
“Theme Of Discrimination In To Kill A Mockingbird.” Edubirdie, 16 Jun. 2022,
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