What prejudices are believed about the characters in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Aside from the obvious prejudices held about Arthur (Boo) Radley and Tom Robinson, many characters in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird are viewed in a prejudiced light.

Walter Cunningham is one character Scout views in a prejudiced light though she mends her ways by the middle of the book. Scout's prejudices against Walter are seen in the early chapters. In the second chapter, in her speeches to Miss Caroline explaining why Walter has no lunch and won't accept her quarter, Scout paints Walter and the rest of the Cunninghams in a positive light, saying, "The Cunninghams never took anything they can't pay back--no church baskets and no scrip stamps ... [T]hey get along on what they have. They don't have much, but they get along on it." However, by the time Jem invites Walter to their home for lunch, it is evident that Scout sees Walter as inferior due to his poverty. For example, Scout shows surprise when Atticus is able to converse with Walter, "like two men," while at the dinner table. Plus, when Walter pours molasses syrup all over his lunch and Scout expresses surprise, making him feel ashamed, her retort when reprimanded by Calpurnia is, "He ain't company, Cal, he's just a Cunningham," showing us that Scout is prejudice at first and thinks of the Cunninghams as being beneath her due to their poverty.

However, Scout changes her tune after the trial when she learns that a family member of Walter's who served on the jury nearly acquitted Robinson. After this discovery, she plans to invite Walter home for lunch again during school, and when Aunt Alexandra sounds like she disapproves of the idea, Scout asks, "Why not, Aunty? They're good folks," showing us just how much Scout has outgrown her prejudices since the start of the book (Ch. 23).

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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