In To Kill a Mockingbird, many of the characters in the novel are depicted by the author as classifying each other according to rigid categories. They hold stereotypes about how individuals will behave as a result of their age, gender, race, social status, and other fixed categories. Which characters are the victims of stereotyping? Do any of them break through the behavior expected of them, showing individuality and exposing the falseness of narrowly labeling people?

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In To Kill a Mockingbird, the characters who are unfairly stereotyped are likened to a mockingbird: an innocent creature that harms no one. These characters are innocent of the accusations and beliefs people hold about them but are wrongly stereotyped.

Tom Robinson is stereotyped as a threatening black man...

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In To Kill a Mockingbird, the characters who are unfairly stereotyped are likened to a mockingbird: an innocent creature that harms no one. These characters are innocent of the accusations and beliefs people hold about them but are wrongly stereotyped.

Tom Robinson is stereotyped as a threatening black man whose actions are motivated by anger and animalistic lust rather than intelligence and humanity. He is persecuted because of his race, not because of his actions. At this time in history, particularly in the South, black men were often accused of raping and attacking white women. The accusations against Tom Robinson were obviously false, yet he was convicted of the crime. Similarly, Boo Radley is wrongly perceived by people who judge him based on his reclusive lifestyle. Boo is unfairly stereotyped, as is Tom Robinson, because people rely solely on preconceived notions rather than personal impressions to form opinions and make judgements about him. In the novel, the stereotyping of both these characters is linked with hatred and fear.

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There are several characters in the novel that are victims of stereotyping based on their social status, race, or unique personalities. Arthur "Boo" Radley is the perfect example of a character who is unfairly stereotyped: he is perceived as a malevolent, strange individual simply because he is a reclusive person. In the small town of Maycomb, citizens spread false rumors about Boo Radley and portray him in a negative light. As the novel progresses, the reader learns that Boo is actually a kind, compassionate man who cares about the Finch children. Boo even challenges his stereotype by defending the children when Bob Ewell attacks them towards the end of the novel.

Another character who is unfairly stereotyped is Dolphus Raymond. The town thinks that Dolphus is a drunk, which, to them, explains why he hangs around with black people and has had children with a black woman. However, Scout and Dill discover that Dolphus's apparent drunkenness is a ruse to allow him to avoid conflict with his neighbors.

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FRANCIS.  I find Jem and Scout's cousin Francis a stereotypical spoiled brat. Francis is actually Aunt Alexandra's grandson--Atticus' great-nephew--although he is about the same age as Jem and Scout. His parents apparently leave him with Alexandra quite often, not unlike the manner in which Dill is disposed by his parents. Francis is a smart-mouthed, foul-mouthed boy who delights in aggravating Scout. He repeats the unfriendly comments made by his parents concerning Atticus (being a "nigger-lover") and seems to have none of the free-thinking independence and imagination of his cousins. He is fairly one-dimensional and because his character is not particularly well-developed, Francis becomes a stereotypical spoiled brat with a foul mouth and rotten ethical values.

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I believe Mayella is the victim of stereotyping. She might be labeled as "poor white trash." Although this has grown a very negative connotation today, each descriptor taken alone, is just a description of the situation she was born into. She is a victim of her enviornment and is likely bound by a controlling father.

Because of this, in her testimony, Atticus draws forth her possible desire to break free from that world. She shows a specific individuality that sets her apart from the welfare status, uneducated mentality of creating household items out of trash from the dump. She grows geraniums. Scout noted that these flowers look fit for Miss Maudie's garden.

She stays true to her stereotype most of the time, but I don't think it is because she wants to, it's because her father demands it.

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