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The two most prevalent modes of prejudice in this novel relate to race and class.
We can see racial prejudice explored in a number of episodes in the novel, most notably the trial of Tom Robinson. The language of the novel is laced with value statements regarding the status of African Americans.
This value-charged language becomes quite explicit in the scene where Aunt Alexandra hosts the missionary circle in the Finch house. Mrs. Merriweather makes a number of derogatory comments and is oblivious to the irony of some of these statements. She remarks on the work of a missionary in Africa whose aim is to break down a generous community support system that treats all children as part of the community family in order to establish American-style family values.
The ladies of the missionary circle prove how hypocritical and dangerous social rules can be. Mrs. Merriweather clearly puts her maid Sophy in a different category from her family.
This lack of vision is integral to and symptomatic of the racial prejudice found in Maycomb.
Similarly related to notions of status, class-based prejudice is also a major element of Maycomb culture. Even the usually tolerant Atticus Finch participates in passing judgment on people who present "low class behavior". He calls these people "trash", demonstrating a hard moral principle, which he feels separates categories of people.
For Atticus Finch, behavior and values separate the classes, but for others material status and family name distinguish between the classes.
Unlike Alexandra, who calls poor people like the Cunninghams "trash" because of their social station, Atticus tells his children that any white man who takes advantage of a black man's ignorance is "trash."
The views of Atticus Finch, as harsh and judgmental as they are, seem to be based on morally defensible principles. Those of Alexandra are not. This means that her views are essentially biased or prejudiced.
- In "To Kill A Mockingbird" we see many examples of racial prejudice.
- Harper Lee's novel accentuates the evils of social class prejedice.
- Religous prejudice can be found many times in Maycomb County.
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