Prejudice In Larry Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird

2125 Words 9 Pages
Larry Elder reminisces, “Raised by an irresponsible mother during the Great Depression in the Jim Crow south, my father was on his own from the age of 13” (Elder). This reference shows both the racism and the economic collapse occurred in the nation during the 1930s. The 1930s was a difficult time for most people in America. It was the era of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, which cost many workers their jobs and many farmers their farms. The 1930s was also a time of pervasive and sometimes violent racial prejudice. Blacks were scorned upon and stereotyped as lazy, evil, and selfish. During the Depression, they were often the first to lose their jobs and the last to regain them. Jim Crow laws segregated blacks and whites, forcing blacks …show more content…
Attempts at communication to end prejudice still endure, as shown, “Are we really not going to talk about the black girl” (The Final Barrier 1). In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, however, one instance of someone trying to prevent innocents from being hurt is shown when Atticus tells Jem and Scout not to shoot at mockingbirds when they receive air rifles. “‘Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird’” (Lee 90). The mockingbirds in the quote symbolize an innocent, helpless individual. Shooting the mockingbird would be akin to harming that individual, or otherwise destroying his/her innocence. Mockingbirds in the story include Boo Radley and Tom Robinson, both of whom were innocent people harmed in by the prejudices against them. In both cases, Atticus takes steps to ensure their protection. In Boo’s case, Atticus tells the children to stop their obsession with Boo Radley. In Tom’s case, Atticus puts his reputation at stake to defend Tom Robinson from an unfair accusation. In both cases, Atticus fails to achieve this. The children continue their obsession with Boo throughout most of the story, and Tom Robinson is punished for the crime, despite being innocent. Harper Lee asserts that communication alone is not enough to stop the prejudice against innocent people. Another example of this is …show more content…
This quote highlights the devastating effects of prejudice. In this quote, Miss Maudie chats with Jem and Scout while they work in her garden. “’Why, one spring of nut grass can ruin a whole yard. Look here. When it comes full this dries up and the wind blows it all over Maycomb County!’” (Lee 42). What Miss Maudie really means by “one spring of nut grass can ruin a whole yard” is that once prejudice contaminates a part of a community, it will quickly infect the entire place. The “spring of nut grass” represents the prejudice rooted in Maycomb that “blew” through the whole town. Maycomb’s disease, prejudice, is akin to an infection that has already progressed to an advanced stage. The effect of this is shown during the Tom Robinson trial, where Tom Robinson was falsely charged with and convicted of a crime he did not commit. The prejudice in Maycomb even managed to spread to what was supposed to be the fairest place in town, the court, which resulted in Tom Robinson’s false conviction. What Harper Lee teaches that a small amount prejudice can spread throughout a whole organization, resulting in the entire group stereotyping others. When Jane Elliot performed a study about prejudice on a class of third graders, she found that prejudice can spread shockingly quickly throughout a group. She discovered that “third graders turned into nasty, vicious, discriminating little third-graders” when exposed

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