Which three characters take action about prejudice in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Three other characters who display racism in To Kill a Mockingbird are Mayella Ewell, Walter Cunningham Sr., and Calpurnia's adversary at her church, Lula.

Mayella's extreme loneliness drives her to request Tom Robinson to do a few chores for her, but she proves to be no friend. When she attacks Tom, a married man, kissing and groping him, Tom beats a haste retreat. But he is not fast enough to escape the prying eyes of Mayella's father, Bob, who beats Mayella for the indiscretion of "tempting a black man." Mayella shows her true colors in court, accusing Tom of assault and rape, and referring to him as a "nigger." The unfounded charges prove to be a death sentence for Tom.

Walter Cunningham Sr. is the father of Scout's school friend, Walter Jr. A poor farmer, he leads the group of men who plan to take Tom Robinson from the jail for a necktie party--a lynching. The arrival of the children, and especially Scout's innocent conversation, shames Cunningham from fulfilling his mission, and the men leave the jail, with Tom still safely inside.

Lula is the one black character in the novel who shows any outward trace of racism. She confronts Calpurnia outside the First Purchase Church and attempts to keep the Finch's housekeeper from entering with Jem and Scout. It is an all-black church, and Lula does not like the idea of having white children as a part of the congregation. Calpurnia stands up to her threatening words, Lula gets no support from the rest of the assemblage, and the children end up spending an enlightening day among Calpurnia's friends.

pepsiq15 | Student

In To Kill a Mockingbird, there are many instances of prejudice.  Three characters that will be discussed in which they “made action” with prejudice are Scout Finch, Atticus Finch, and Bob Ewell. 

            Scout Finch, the daughter of Atticus Finch, starts off in the novel as a five year old girl who has no experience with the evils found in the world; she holds strong to the basic belief that there is only good in the world.  As the novel progresses however, her basic belief is tested by the hatred and prejudice that has come from Tom Robinson’s trial.  Her teacher, Miss Caroline, discusses in class one day Hitler’s prejudice towards Jews and then begins to talk about her own prejudice against blacks—this baffles Scout immensely.  We see, however, that because of how Atticus has raised his daughter, Scout learns to appreciate the goodness found in humans without ignoring the evil in humans as well.

            Atticus Finch, Scout and Jem’s father and a lawyer in Maycomb, defends Tom Robinson while he is on trial for raping a white woman.  Atticus, throughout the novel, is respected by everyone… even the poor and is considered the person others turn to in the time of need and support.  While others in the town are prejudice towards blacks, Atticus admires much within blacks and strongly wants to defend Tom.  This great lesson is one of the many that Atticus passes onto Scout.

            In contrast to Scout and Atticus that take a stand against prejudice, Bob Ewell, a drunken man and member of the poorest family in Maycomb, represents the direct prejudice in the South towards blacks.  Bob has made the wrongful accusation against Tom about his daughter, Mayella.  He is quite ignorant toward the fact that his daughter was not in fact raped and will fight until Tom is hanged for his actions because Tom is a black man.

            We see through the portrayal of these three characters how prejudice is fought for and against in To Kill a Mockingbird.  We see the hardships many characters face throughout the novel and how each character, based on their beliefs and upbringings, chooses to deal with the issues that arise.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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