In To Kill a Mockingbird, how is the structure of neighbourhood prejudicial, and are there any quotes supporting this? And also, how should I start my paragraph on this topic? I really need...

In To Kill a Mockingbird, how is the structure of neighbourhood prejudicial, and are there any quotes supporting this?

 And also, how should I start my paragraph on this topic? I really need help! Thanks heaps.

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One prevalent motif in To Kill a Mockingbird is the tendency of the citizens of Maycomb, like the inhabitants of many a small town, to label people.  In the small neighborhood of the Finches, for instance, there are several neighbors who are labeled by Scout, Jem, Dill, and others.  One such neighbor is, of course, Boo Radley, a "malevolent phantom" whom the neighborhood gossip, Miss Stephanie Crawford, claims is a "Peeping Tom" because, she says, he tries to look into her bedroom window.  The children think of him as some kind of a reclusive monster who has tried to kill his father with a scissors.  The "foot-washing baptists" condemn Miss Maudie for her brightly colored garden, and two doors up the street from the Finches is Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose,

neighborhood opiion was unanimous that Mrs.l Dubose was the meanest old woman who ever lived.

When it snows in Maycomb, the children fashion a snowman that is a caricature of Mr. Avery, the neighbor across from Miss Maudie who sits upon his porch in the evenings, sneezing and making odd noises.

Finally, a prejudice surfaces as Cecil Jacobs, who lives on the far end of the street, tells Scout that her father is a "nigger-lover."  When she asks Atticus about his defending of a black man, he replies that other lawyers have done the same.  Later that night, Scout overhears her father as he responds to his sister's request for him to refuse to defend Tom Robinson.  He tells her,

Do you think I could face my children otherwise?...I hope and pray I can get Jem and Scout through it without bitterness, and most of all, without catching Maycomb's usual disease.

Scout overhears Atticus, but figures out only years later that he has intended that she overhear.  For, Atticus wants his children to "walk in other people's shoes" so that they will not have such myopic views of others who are different from them; so they will not have "Maycomb's usual disease."

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In addition to the excellent previous post by mwestwood, the other primary neighborhoods discussed in To Kill a Mockingbird also show a form of distinct predjudice just by their separate locales. As would be true of most Southern towns of the early 20th century, Maycomb's Negro community is segregated from the white neighborhoods. The Quarters was located "outside the southern town limits, across from the old sawmill tracks," not far from the town dump. Few white people (aside from possibly Mr. Dolphus Raymond) would have lived in The Quarters. Two other groups of outcast white families who did not fit in with Maycomb's neighborhood standards included the Ewells and the Cunninghams. The Ewells lived near The Quarters adjacent to dump; Atticus described them as "the disgrace of Maycomb for three generations." Another larger group of families, "an enormous and confusing tribe" of Cunninghams, lived in Old Sarum. The Cunningham families were primarily farmers, and Old Sarum is presumably located somewhere on the outskirts of Maycomb. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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