In To Kill a Mockingbird, the white people look down on the black people, the Cunninghams look down on the Ewells, and the “kind-hearted” people feel sorry for others that are worse off than...

In To Kill a Mockingbird, the white people look down on the black people, the Cunninghams look down on the Ewells, and the “kind-hearted” people feel sorry for others that are worse off than them. Where do we see examples of the human tendency to look down on others in the text?

Asked on by bonjour1

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lusie0520 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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When you format your essay, think of something that includes “everyone wants someone to feel sorry for.”  For example, you could say: Whites looking down on Blacks, the Cunninghams looking down on the Ewells, and the “kind people” feeling sorry for those who are worse off than them are good examples of everyone wanting to feel sorry for someone else. 

For your first example, you could use the scene in Calpurnia’s church where the children learn about “linin’.” Summarize the part where Scout is asking Calpurnia why she talks “nigger talk” at church but not at home.  She keeps telling Cal she “knows better.”  Scout, while a really good person, is not above looking down on Blacks because they cannot read and they speak differently than she does.

For your second example, you could use the scene in the school where Walter Cunningham is embarrassed by the teacher, and he later goes home with Scout and Jem for lunch.  In this scene, Scout talks about Walter being “just a Cunningham,” and she gets quite the lecture from Calpurnia.

For your third point, you could use the ladies’ missionary society meeting where they are all talking about “the poor Mrunas” and their living conditions, and so on.  In your explanation of why everyone wants someone to look down upon or feel sorry for, remember to think about how when someone else is worse off than we are, it makes us grateful for our circumstances.  You could also talk about how some people make themselves feel better by looking down on others.

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