How does Harper Lee show that if women don’t question their roles, they are as oppressed as African Americans?

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Jessica Pope | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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"To Kill a Mockingbird" demonstrates the way in which white women could be oppressed within the hierarchical social system of Southern life in America in the mid-1900s. Scout Finch is a young girl observing the racial tension and oppression of her small town community. At the same time, she also resists fitting in to the established norms of feminine behavior. Because Scout's behavior is significantly outside of these norms, it draws the reader's attention to the truly limited and oppressive nature of those norms.

For example, Scout fights to defend herself even though it's not "ladylike." She befriends Boo, a somewhat shady and recluse neighboor. She doesn't like wearing dresses or holding her tongue. Scout is able to enjoy freedom from these restraints due to her age and her stubborness. She has the ability to express herself authentically. Scout's character thus gives readers an opportunity to reflect upon the otherwise stifled nature of respectable Southern womanhood.


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