To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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How does the book To Kill a Mockingbird show hypocrisy?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The theme of hypocrisy is developed in relation to racial prejudice and religious extremism. Miss Maudie is explaining the hypocrisy inherent in religious extremism when she talks to Scout about Boo Radley's father, whom Maudie characterizes as "a foot-washing Baptist." When Scout tries to reconcile God's love with some of the behavior she has seen and heard about, Maudie stops her and her voice takes on an edge. Maudie is angry about matters of which Scout has no knowledge, specifically the abuse Boo Radley has experienced at the hands of his extremely religious father:

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jess1999 | Student

For me, hypocrisy in the book shows up when the townsfolk are concerned about the welfare and treatment of people from other towns or even countries, when they themselves are unable to realize that they hold these prejudice themselves. One example occurs in Ch 26, where Miss Gates complains to her class on how Adolf Hitler was a mad man, and later on laments on how Jews were being persecuted since the beginning of history. Basically, she was teaching the class to never persecute anyone. Now, the irony is during the trial of Tom Robinson. Scout mentions that she overheard Miss Gates exclaim that "it's time somebody taught 'em a lesson, they were gettin' way about themselves, an' the next thing they think they can do is marry us" (ch 26) Without even realizing it herself, Miss Gates holds prejudice towards other races.

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