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What is an important example in which prejudice and racism are shown in To Kill a...

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mel7x | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted December 12, 2012 at 3:10 AM via web

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What is an important example in which prejudice and racism are shown in To Kill a Mockingbird?

I need to write an essay on prejudice and racism and I need at least 3-4 important examples as to where this is shown in the book. 

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 12, 2012 at 7:35 PM (Answer #1)

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When Mr. Gilmer takes advantage of Tom Robinson’s saying he felt sorry for Mayella Ewell, this is an example of racism and prejudice.

Racism is disliking a person because of his skin.  Prejudice is treating a person differently because you are racist.  The most significant example of racism and prejudice in the book is the trial.  Tom Robinson is a black man accused of attacking a white woman on no other evidence than her word.

Defense attorney Atticus Finch does a good idea of showing that Tom Robinson could not physically have committed the crime, and in fact that there is no evidence it event took place.  Yet Robinson is still convicted, and one of the reasons is because he says he felt sorry for Mayella Ewell.

"You felt sorry for her, you felt sorry for her?" Mr. Gilmer seemed ready to rise to the ceiling. (ch 19)

The fact that Mr. Gilmer makes such a big deal about a black man feeling sorry for a white woman is evidence of deep-seated racism and prejudice.  Because it is not acceptable for a black man to look down on a white woman, the jury convicts Tom Robinson.  They do not convict him for raping Mayella Ewell.  They convict him for feeling sorry for her.

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