To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird book cover
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What is Harper Lee's message on racial prejudice in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Harper Lee set To Kill a Mockingbird in the segregated South during the 1930s, so it is not surprising that she addresses the issue of racial prejudice in this novel. The most egregious example is seen in the justice system during Tom Robinson's trial; however, three white men (the sheriff, the judge, and his lawyer, Atticus Finch) all strive for justice because it is the right thing to do.

The characters are black and white, rich and poor, mean-spirited and kind, educated and illiterate, and everything in between; both the "good" and the "bad" characters come from each of these groups. Harper Lee uses this interesting mix of characters to make the point that race has little or nothing to do with the way a person chooses to act toward others and racism is practiced by many kinds of people.

The Cunninghams are an exceptionally poor white family; however, young Walter Cunningham has a knowledgeable conversation with Atticus over lunch one day, Walter's father faithfully pays for Atticus's legal...

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