How does the novel To Kill a Mockingbird reveal that prejudice is a destructive force in society?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, there are numerous tragic events that are caused by the community's prejudiced beliefs and attitudes. Harper Lee reveals that prejudice is a destructive force by examining how it negatively affects the lives of innocent individuals and divides a community. Maycomb's prejudiced jury wrongly convicts Tom Robinson simply because he is black. Tom eventually loses his life in prison after he attempts to escape, leaving his wife and children behind. The Robinson family is essentially destroyed because of Maycomb's prejudice. Boo Radley is another individual whose life is negatively affected by prejudice. Mr. Radley, a religious fanatic who is prejudiced against society in general, keeps Boo inside the house for the majority of his life. Boo is unable to form relationships with his community members and becomes the victim of nasty rumors and gossip. Boo's social life is essentially destroyed because of his father and the community's prejudice.

Maycomb's entire community is divided because of prejudice. White and black citizens remain segregated, and the black community suffers from injustice and inequality because of the predominant prejudiced ideology found in Maycomb. The Finch family also becomes divided. Atticus' sister disagrees with his decision to defend Tom Robinson and makes hateful, judgmental comments about her brother. Scout and Jem also feel the destructive power of prejudice throughout the novel. They are subjected to derogatory comments directed at their father and are continually insulted by their fellow community members. Jem and Scout are also physically threatened several times throughout the novel by prejudiced community members. They narrowly escape a lynch mob and a vicious attack from Bob Ewell. These negative experiences result from the ugly prejudice that is prevalent throughout Maycomb. Lee depicts how individuals, families, and communities are negatively affected by the destructive force of prejudice.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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