To Kill A Mockingbird Analytical Essay English Literature Essay

Humans are born with prejudice, as it is our way to remain on top of the social hierarchy, a modern day version of survival of the fittest. An excellent exemplory case of this is given in Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird, written in 1960. The memorable quote, "You hardly ever really understand a person until you take into account things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin", is the essential message of the entire novel, to access know a person rather than to pre-judge and discriminate based upon race or class. Using "To Kill a Mockingbird", Harper Lee explores prejudice using common discourses associated with race and class, context and characterisation to help her readers encapsulate the very essence of her own anti-racist ideology.

The story is set in the 1930's, an era of great racial injustice, in the deep south of Maycomb, Alabama. It's been more than seventy years since the Southerners lost to the Yankees in the Civil war yet the people of the South still resent the Yankees of the North as they believe the Northerners are hypocrites for freeing the slaves. Greater than their resentment towards North is their hatred into the coloured people. Up until seventy years before, the blacks were slaves to the whites and although the blacks were freed, they are still regarded as the lower class. This creates many clashing ideologies in the tiny town, creating issues between your townsfolk, as to be able to stay on top of the social hierarchy, they must neglect lower classes and find out those beings as beneath them in order to survive themselves. Harper Lee created this setting to reflect the city that she grew up in, to have the ability to put more understanding into her writing to be able help her readers gain a greater perspective of the prejudice throughout that era. She also creates a plot predicated on the events and ideologies of the time.

In the book, the white upper class folks of Maycomb fall subject to ethnocentrism. They think that they may be normal, superior, and other things is strange; even if indeed they haven't met them, they pre-judge different and condemn them to a lowly life. This is their way of staying together with the social hierarchy, because if they did not pre-judge other classes, their position as the best class would maintain jeopardy and the lower classes would rise up and take their place. An example of this is actually the way Tom Robinson helped Mayella Ewell, a woman from minimal trusted white family in the city. When both were caught together, Mayella accused Tom of rape, and only since it was considered abnormal that a black man should help and feel sorry for a white woman. If the case went to trial, Tom was found guilty because the white upper class of Maycomb would rather think that a black man raped a girl and put him in jail than accept the given physical evidence that suggested that Tom was there to help Mayella, and set him free, because if this was allowed, black and white would interact and the status quo would change. Although Tom didn't win his case, at least one person in the city of Maycomb sees the consequences of racial bias in the courtroom. "There's nothing more sickening to me than a white man who'll take good thing about a Negro's ignorance. Don't fool yourselves - it's all accumulated, and one of the days, we will pay the bill for it. " -Atticus Finch (pg 233-234) Lee created this as part of the novel's storyline showing that even with people like the character of Atticus Finch, this system of pre-judging and discriminating is apparent all around the Earth and can be dated back again to the beginning of time, not only lately. Humans feel a compulsive need to be near the top of the social hierarchy, whether it be killing off your competition, such just as the times of the cavemen, or using prejudice to neglect another class to remain on top. It is part in our mindset, that to stay on top, we need to beat the rest. Also, many characters in the novel were created to reinforce the major plot.

Jean Louise Finch, who's most often described by her nickname "Scout", is the first-person narrator and protagonist of the novel. Her mother died when she was 2 yrs old, so Calpurnia, the black servant of the family, raised her, giving Scout an extremely uncommon sense of trust towards coloured people. Scout has a learning experience affiliated with the trial of Tom Robinson. On your day of the trial, Jem Scout and Dill snuck into the courthouse and sat on the coloured people's balcony to remain out of Atticus' sight. These were caught watching right before the jury was dismissed to go over their sentencing. Atticus allow children stay for the verdict because they had already seen the complete trial and seemed to be quite thinking about what would become of Tom Robinson. Atticus proved Tom to be innocent yet, he was still convicted, only because he was black. Although Tom was convicted, the jury took a long time to attain their decision, showing that they may have considered stating him innocent. Scout could not understand why he was convicted if Atticus proved him innocent but she later learned that happened because he is a black man. "There's something in our world that makes men lose their heads- they couldn't be fair if indeed they tried. Inside our courts, when it's a white man's word against a black man's, the white man always wins. They're ugly, but those will be the facts of life. " - (Atticus, pg 220). This quote is from a conversation between Jem and Atticus, but with Scout listening closely. To her distaste, Scout learns that come what may, whites will always remain superior to blacks. It can be assumed that Lee created Scout to be the focal point of her novel because as the narrator of the story, Scout provides telling an essence of innocence which brings the reader's understanding right down to a child's perception, which, subsequently, will show the reader the entire impact of prejudice in a small town such as Maycomb.

Prejudice is found in many forms all over the world, it always has been and it always will be. It really is occur our minds as soon as we are born, that to be able to stay at the top, you have to somehow eliminate the competition. That is shown in many forms in "To Kill a Mockingbird", using discourses of race and class to invite the reader to see and explore the results of prejudice. Prejudice is about the way we, as people, foreground the ideology of 'different is bad' whilst marginalising the reality of human existence to be able to stay above others, and whether we choose to or not, we will usually make it so in our eyes we, as the 'upper class' remain at the peak of the social hierarchy, because it is human nature, an instinct beyond our control.

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