Explain how Harper Lee develops the theme of prejudice in To Kill A Mockingbird.

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Two parallel stories explore the theme of prejudice in To Kill a Mockingbird. To be prejudiced is to pre-judge a person based on some external characteristic, such as skin color or being reclusive, rather than to evaluate the person based on who they are on the inside.

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Two parallel stories explore the theme of prejudice in To Kill a Mockingbird. To be prejudiced is to pre-judge a person based on some external characteristic, such as skin color or being reclusive, rather than to evaluate the person based on who they are on the inside.

The first way prejudice is explored is through the children's pre-judging of the reclusive Boo Radley as a fearful ogre or monster based on stories about him—some of them arising from their own imaginations. Because of their prejudice, it takes the children a long time to see the worth and humanity residing in this neighbor.

Likewise, racial prejudice means the white community of Maycomb prejudges Tom Robinson as being guilty of rape because he is a black man. It hardly even matters whether or not he committed the crime; if a white woman says he did, then he is guilty in the racist eyes of Maycomb. Even though Atticus is able to show that Robinson could not have raped Mayella as she described, such facts don't matter.

Scout learns, both through Tom and Boo, that it is a mistake to prejudge an individual.

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In addition to the black/white prejudice, you've got the theme intertwined with the prejudice against Boo Radley who for some unknown and mysterious reason chooses to stay indoors.  There's also the prejudice of the town against the Ewells who are repeatedly described as "white trash" in the novel and who live near the black community.  There is also Mr. Raymond who appears to be drunk all the time and has a black mistress who is the mother of his little mixed children.  The reader isn't certain if the drunkenness or the black mistress and children are more prevelant in their treatment of Mr. Raymond, but nonetheless he is shunned by the townspeople.  Of course, you mustn't forget how Calpurnia is treated by Alexandria when she comes to live with the children during the trial for Tom Robinson which is expected to keep Atticus away from home much more than usual. 

Obviously, black and white issues are the focal point, but this is not the only prejudice that is present in the novel.  Harper Lee is a master at weaving all kinds of prejudice throughout the pages of his novel from beginning to end.  Debunking these prejudices is part of the kids' coming of age...especially Jem's.  It is an artful piece of literature.

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Prejudice is interwoven throughout the entire novel. At the beginning of the novel, Scout and Jem are taken to a Black church. The congregation is far from pleased. Scout's teacher is prejudiced against Scout for knowing how to read so well, not a very good prejudice coming from an educator. The town is prejudiced against Boo because he is mysterious and a recluse; thus, he must be evil. Of course, the driving prejudice in the novel, that of racism, is that the majority of the White population in the town of Maycomb is prejudiced against Blacks. Therefore, you have the the unjust case against Tom Robinson after he has been accused by people whose integrity is questionable at best!

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