Does prejudice and injustice spread like a disease or is it independent in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Prejudice and injustice are spread.  Children learn to be prejudiced, or not prejudiced, from their parents.  A perfect example of this is Atticus teaching his children to respect and appreciate everyone, regardless of race.

Most people in Maycomb are prejudiced because they do not know any better.  They have been raised that way by their parents.  Not all people felt that way.  Atticus’s parents made sure that Calpurnia had an education. 

Scout asks Atticus to explain why he is being called a n-lover. 

It's hard to explain- ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody's favoring Negroes over and above themselves. It's slipped into usage with some people like ourselves, when they want a common, ugly term to label somebody. (ch 11)

Atticus made sure that his children grew up knowing how to respect everyone.  Not only did he have them treat Calpurnia with respect, but he also defended Tom Robinson.  He told his children not to use the common word for Negro.  He treated Tom Robinson and his family with kindness. 

His attitude was forward-thinking though.  Most children were taught to hate Negroes, as evidenced by the fights that Scout got into because her father was defending Tom Robinson.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

Posted on

Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial