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Racial Prejudice. Tom Crow laws are in full effect in Alabama, and racial prejudice against African Americans is a fact of life in the Deep Sout during the 1930s. The "N" word is used repeatedly in the novel by many of the characters, including Scout. At one point she tells Dill that he shouldn't be upset about the way Tom is being treated by the prosecutor, Horace Gilmer.
"Well, Dill, after all he's just a Negro." (Chapter 19)
Atticus knows well before the trial begins that he has little chance of winning the case since
"The only thing we've got is a black man's word against the Ewells'... the jury couldn't possibly be expected to take Tom Robinson's word..." (Chapter 9)
Gender Prejudice. Author Harper Lee doesn't seem to have a very high opinion of women in her novel, since most of the female characters are rather peculiar with many obvious personal faults. "Ladies seemed to live in faint horror of men, seemed unwilling to approve wholeheartedly of them." Scout much prefers the company of men because "they weren't--Hypocrites... born hypocrites." (Chapter 24) Peraps the most obvious example of gender bias is the fact that women are not allowed to serve on juries.
"You mean women in Alabama can't--?" I was indignant.
"I do. I guess it's to protect our frail ladies from sordid cases like Tom's. Besides," Atticus grinned, "I doubt if we'd ever get a complete case tried--the ladies'd be interrupting the questions." (Chapter 23)
Social Prejudice. Outsiders are not trusted in Maycomb--even if they are from Alabama. When Miss Caroline announces that she is "from Winston County... The class murmered apprehensively, should she share to harbor her share of the peculiarities indigenous to that region." (Chapter 2) The Misses Tutti and Frutti are regarded with suspect because they are both deaf and because "they were rumored to be Republicans... Their ways were strange to us... (Chapter 27)
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