Other than the obvious racial biases in To Kill a Mockingbird, what is one other bias or prejudice seen in the story?
Cite one specific instance of the bias from the text and explain why most characters have this particular bias against other characters.
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Although rather obvious as well, the citizens of Maycomb certainly show no sympathy for the mentally and physically disabled members of their town. Boo Radley is the prime example, of course. He is blamed for everything unusual that happens in the town (when it's not blamed on Negros, that is). Dolphus Raymond is considered mentally unstable because he prefers the company of Negros. His brown paper bag hides a Coca-Cola, not the whiskey everyone imagines. The minor character, Crazy Addie, turns out to be the culprit of crimes for which Boo is blamed; no one seems too surprised or upset when he eventually drowns. Tom Robinson receives no sympathy from the jury because of his crippled arm. And the Misses Tutti and Frutti--both nearly deaf--are considered the oddest of the women in the town. These people were all different from the Maycomb norm, and in 1930s Alabama, abnormal behavior and physical defects were still reasons to be scorned.
In addition to the information discussed in the previous posts, Harper Lee describes the presence of gender biases in the 1930s in the South.
Primarily, readers see Jem's constant criticism of Scout for her girl-like behvior. After Scout rolls into the Radley yard in the tire and is too afraid to go back and retrieve it, Jem runs in to fetch it. When he returns, he says, "I swear, Scout, sometimes you act so much like a girl it's mortifyin'." Essentially, Jem makes Scout feel like it's a bad thing to act like a girl. Part 1 of the novel is filled with such references, which is why Scout, in Chapter 12, is completely confused and upset by Jem's sudden insistence that "It's about time you started bein' a girl and acting right!" (Not coincidentally, this quote comes during a time when Jem is maturing and distancing himself from activities with Scout and Dill.)
Similarly, Aunt Alexandra decides that her presence is necessary at the Finch household so that she may teach Scout how to act like a lady. In doing so, she is critical of Scout's tomboy tendencies and insists that Scout needs to act properly in order to uphold the dignity associated with the Finch family name. It is clear, from several episodes in the novel (particularly Aunt Alexandra's missionary circle) that Scout understands the ladies' hypocrisy; they sip their tea and display good manners, but they talk about others with contempt.
Finally, Miss Maudie points out to the children that women, in that time period, were not allowed to serve as jurors. As Jem recognizes Miss Maudie's fair treatment of all humans, regardless of their race, social class, or other circumstances, he points out the ridiculousness of such a rule.
There is an obvious class system bias in this book. Typically (though there are exceptions) characters look down on those of lower socio-economic status.
The socio-economic class system can be divided as follows:
- Educated (but poor) professionals = Finch's, Miss Maudie
- Poor farmers = Cunningham's
- Poor white trash = Ewell's
Scout actually (innocently) shows this when she reveals Walter Cunninghams "way" in front of Miss Caroline. Very matter-of-factly she acts as if giving him money is a breach of a sacred code the everyone knows (because it is). This shows that the bias exists and is well known. Aunt Alexandra, the Missionary Society, and Miss Stephanie are probably better examples of the class distinction that exists in Maycomb.
Probably the best evidence for this bias, however, is actually in the trial itself. The entire town knows that Bob Ewell is despicable and evil. If Atticus were defending anyone else but a black man against Bob Ewell, the case would be cut and dry. He wouldn't have really even had to prepare. Probably, he wouldn't have even been appointed to the case in the first place. The socio-economic bias here only hightens the racial bias as the only reason Mr. Ewell's word was taken over ANYONE, was because the other side was a black man.
There are prejudices between social classes, moral education, racial biases and always how good vs. evil ties into the theme of the book.
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