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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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How does To Kill A Mockingbird make us think about the world?

To Kill A Mockingbird makes us think about the world in terms of reconsidering the unexamined prejudices that often guide our lives based on little more than group think and preconceived notions about people or groups of people.

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To Kill A Mockingbird encourages us to think about the unexamined prejudices we hold. How often do we judge a person without truly knowing their story?

In the novel, two parallel stories raise this question of prejudice. Scout, Jem, and Dill judge Boo Radley to be frightening based on rumors and gossip while knowing nothing in reality about this reclusive man. Scout develops a fear of him based on exaggerated stories that he is a bogeyman, all passed around simply because he does not socialize with his neighbors. In fact, Scout for a long time ignores the evidence that he is looking out for her and Jem, such as that he mends Jem's torn pants and puts a blanket around her shoulders to keep her warm on the cold day Miss Maudie's house burns down. These are acts of kindness and compassion, but Scout has already decided he is a frightening person, so she ignores what doesn't fit her confirmation bias.

Tom Robinson is likewise pre-judged by the whites in Maycomb. Because he is a Black man, they automatically believe Mayella's story that he raped her. Even when Atticus presents evidence that makes it almost impossible to believe that Tom raped Mayella, the overwhelming feeling that a white person should be believed over a Black person leads the jury to find Tom guilty of the crime.

Scout is able to learn and grow, realizing by the end of the story that Boo is a good person she has not treated well. The novel also suggests that white people examine their racism and how they treat Black people so that they can understand Black people as individuals and not judge them according to preconceived notions.

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