What are some quotes on racism, prejudice, and intolerance throughout the novel To Kill a Mockingbird?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are plenty of quotes the deal with racism, prejudice, and intolerance throughout the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout and Jem become the target of several racist comments from various community members in Maycomb. In Chapter 11, Mrs. Dubose says,

"Your father's no better than the niggers and trash he works for!" (Lee 135)

Mrs. Dubose is not the only character throughout the novel that uses derogatory racial slurs. In Chapter 9, Scout's cousin, Francis Hancock, is talking about her father Atticus and says,

"He's nothin' but a nigger-lover!" (Lee 110)

There are several scenes throughout the novel where Harper Lee illustrates the prejudice amongst the citizens of Maycomb's community. In Chapter 20, during Atticus' closing remarks he says,

"The witnesses for the state, with the exception of the sheriff of Maycomb County, have presented themselves to you gentlemen, to this court, in the cynical confidence that their testimony would not be doubted, confident that you gentlemen would go along with them on the assumption---the evil assumption---that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral beings, that all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women, an assumption one associates with minds of their caliber." (Lee 273)

People are not only prejudiced towards the opposite race in Maycomb, but are also prejudiced towards others in regards to social class. This is evident when Scout asks her Aunt Alexandra if Walter Cunningham can come over to play. Alexandra refuses to let Scout play with Walter. When Scout asks why she can't play with Walter, Alexandra says,

"Because---he----is----trash, that's why you can't play with him, picking up his habits and Lord-knows-what." (Lee 301)

Intolerance is defined as an unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect persons from a different social group and opinions contrary to one's own. In Chapter 24, the ladies of Aunt Alexandra's missionary circle display their intolerance towards the Mrunas in Africa. Mrs. Merriweather says,

"Out there in J. Grimes Everett's land there's nothing but sin and squalor." (Lee 309)

Mrs. Merriweather is ignorant and intolerant towards cultures that contrast with Western civilization and her religious beliefs. She also comments,

"I tell you that there are some good but misguided people in this town. Good, but misguided. Folks in this town who think they're doing right, I mean." (Lee 311)

Mrs. Merriweather believes that Atticus' defense of Tom Robinson is wrong. She is unwilling to respect his opinion that all men should be treated fairly regardless of race.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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