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Discrimination and Prejudice To Kill a Mockingbird

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1077 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The most important theme of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird is the author Harper Lee’s tenacious exploration of the moral nature of people. Lee tenaciously explores the moral nature of human beings, especially the struggle in every human soul between discrimination and tolerance. The novel is very effective in not only revealing prejudice, but in examining the nature of prejudice, how it works, and its consequences. Harper Lee accomplishes this by dramatising the main characters’, Scout and Jem’s, maturing transition from a perspective of childhood innocence. Initially, because they have never seen or experienced evil themselves, they assume that all people are good by nature and tolerant of others. It is not until they see things from more realistic adult perspectives that they are able to confront evil, as well as prejudice, and incorporate it into their understanding of the world.

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Lee has invited the reader to interpret the dominant ideology of racial prejudice through the effective use of innocent characters, Jem and Scout. It is obvious to the reader that racial prejudice is incorrect and the treatment of African-Americans’ is cruel and unjust. Innocent Scout highlights the racial problems when she asked Atticus, “Do you defend niggers, Atticus?” Lee succeeds in portraying to hher readers the innocence of Scout and how she was victimised for this innocence. Scout is made to realise that prejudice, ignorance and hatred will always find a victim. In the end, Scout is able to maintain her basic faith in human nature despite the shock and unfairness of Tom Robinson’s courtroom conviction. However, on the other hand, Jem’s faith in truth, justice and humanity is very badly damaged. He does not understand why all of this is happening. Prejudice and racism do not make any sense to Jem as they are so foreign to his nature and had assumed they did not exist.

In contrast, Atticus Finch has experienced and understood evil throughout his life. He has been confronted with prejudice and racism, but has not lost his faith in human capacity for goodness. Atticus understands this from his own experiences and reflects that most people have both good and bad qualities. Jem and Scout only learn this after their troubling experiences with racism and prejudice during the trial. When they do, it is a revelation which eases some of the burden of their discovery of prejudice.

Lee criticises prejudice of any kind by introducing race, racism, cultural, religious moral and family discourses. However, the dominant discourse of the text is race discourse when Lee goes on to say through Atticus that the important thing in life is to appreciate the good qualities and understand the bad qualities by treating others with sympathy and trying to see life from their perspective. Harper lee exemplifies her main view of the novel through Atticus when he said to Scout, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” He tries to teach this ultimate moral lesson to Scout to show her it is possible to live with conscience without losing hope or becoming cynical. For example, Atticus is able to admire Mrs. Dubose’s courage even while deploring her prejudice. In much the same way, Scout’s progress as a character in the novel is defined by her gradual development toward understanding the lessons Atticus Finch tries to teach her, and in the end, realising who Boo Radley is as a human being. Scout’s newfound ability to view the world from Radley’s perspective ensures that she will not become jaded as she loses her innocence.

Furthermore, Harper Lee strongly criticises prejudice of any kind, positioning readers to view prejudice through her invited reading, as well as a number of characters and discourses presented in the novel. She positions readers to understand To Kill a Mockingbird, as a story which highlights the serious issues of prejudice, discrimination and injustice which occurred during 1930s, in Alabama and the South of North America. The narrator of the text, Scout Finch, demonstrates her maturation which she develops throughout the novel, an example of this is when Scout states, “Well, it’d be sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it?”

In conclusion, in To Kill a Mockingbird, author Harper Lee tenaciously explores the moral nature of human beings, especially the struggle in every human soul between discrimination and tolerance. The invited reading, discourses of the text as well as how the author positions us have influenced readers to believe that racial prejudice is incorrect and the treatment of African-Americans’ is cruel and unjust. “Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” said Atticus to Scout. In other words, according to Atticus it’s a sin to help innocent people who are the victims of evil, just like Boo Radley who does not harm anyone, instead, he leaves Jem and Scout gifts and covers Scout with a blanket during the fire. Harper Lee connects justice with innocence to a certain extent and portrays justice as being easily detected. The problem is society can instil beliefs that can act as a veil and blind people from justice. The only way to remove this veil is through people like Atticus who can pass his morality and nobility to the young.

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School is sometimes can be fun or stressful. School is where students obtain education from teachers in different subjects, such as Maths, English, Bio, Chem, Accounting and Drama. I believe going to school is part of your life. From observing my parents, they talk about their school life most of their time. At school, being part in clubs is one of the most important thing, as we socialise and improve our health. For example, I played Tennis for school and while i was part of the team, I enjoyed it and was able to make more friends. In my school, only the smart kids get Academic lines, only if you get over GPA of 13.76 which is quite impossible to receive. In other words, you must acheive at least A or A+ for all of your subjects. At Lunch time, I play with my friends at the tennis court, but we don’t play tennis, but play handball which is kind of childish game, but it’s quite fun sometimes.


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