Examples Of Prejudice In To Kill A Mockingbird

What is an example of prejudice in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To Kill a Mockingbird is rife with examples of prejudice. The most salient types of prejudice include:

  • racial, or from one race group against another
  • class, or the belief that a certain social class is better than another
  • Ableism, or the idea that people with a handicap are inferior to able-bodied people
  • gender prejudice, or the pre-conceived notion that genders have assigned social roles, or that one is better than the other

Racial prejudice exists all throughout the novel, with the anchor being the unfair trial of Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman. Black-on-white prejudice is exemplified by Lula, when she confronts Calpurnia for bringing the Cunningham children to service at First Purchase Church, which is an African American congregation.

Class prejudice is exemplified by Aunt Alexandra, who is fixated on the superiority of the Finch family. Her pride turns into prejudice when she looks down on the Cunninghams and when she goes as far as calling her own brother a "N***er-lover" for defending Tom Robinson (at least, according to Francis, her grandson).

Ableism is not evident in the literal sense of the word, but it can be applied to the novel in the situation of Boo Radley. A loner-turned-neighborhood myth, Boo hardly ever leaves the house and does not seem to fit in with other people. His family's overprotection may have handicapped him even further. Due to his antisocial characteristics, Boo is vilified, blamed, and made into a myth. All of this is done unfairly and based entirely on a prejudicial view of people who do not conform to "the norm."

Gender prejudice is evident when Aunt Alexandra is asked to move into the home of the Finches to, essentially, teach Scout to be more feminine. The evidence of gender prejudice comes in the form of gender expectations. 

We decided that it would be best for you [Scout] to have some feminine influence. It won’t be many years, Jean Louise, before you become interested in clothes and boys

The idea that Scout "needs" a female influence in her life just because she is a female herself is an outdated notion. Throughout the novel, various adults scold Scout for behaving in an unladylike manner, and Aunt Alexandra's insistence that Scout learn to act like a tradutional "lady" shows little consideration for Scout's own personality and wishes. 

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are different kinds of prejudice.  While there is plenty of racism in the book, there is also intolerance of difference in other ways.  For example, people ostracize Boo Radley because he is different.

Boo Radley is the neighborhood myth, but he is a real person.  Boo had a troubled past.  After a rowdy youth and strict upbringing, he seems to have been isolated in his own house for many years.  He has no company or friends, and only timid and clandestine interaction with the Finch children.

After the shame, Boo’s family made him into a ghost, but not likely by chaining him to the bedpost.

Nobody knew what form of intimidation Mr. Radley employed to keep Boo out of sight, …Atticus said … that there were other ways of making people into ghosts. (ch 1)

In the end, Boo turns out to be a shy but brave young man.  Years of prejudice has kept him a mockingbird, innocent yet haunted. 

jkplunk eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many examples of prejudice throughout To Kill a Mockingbird.  The most obvious example is the mistreatment of Tom Robinson by most of the citizens in the town of Maycomb.  Another example is the way that the citizens who live in the town of Maycomb view the citizens who are poor and live on the outskirts of town; for example, Mayella Ewell.  The Ewells are looked down on within the hierarchy of the Caucasian citizens.  Even though it becomes obvious that Mayella Ewell's father is to blame for the incident that occurs, Tom Robinson is still the scapegoat due to the fact that he is African American.  Lastly, Boo Radley and the stories that abound about him and his family show Scout how appearance aren't always as they seem.

jamie7539154 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

For examples of prejudice, you can consider prejudice (mistreatment)due to race, gender, age, class status, etc.  When you focus on prejudice being larger than just racism, additional examples often become more clear.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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