Fear and Prejudice in Maycomb County

798 Words4 Pages
Dread, anxiety, terror, horror, and alarm are all synonyms for the word fear, while narrow-mindedness and bias are synonyms for prejudice. In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, fear is shown as illogical or logical, depending on whose view it’s from and how people react to it. So is “the only thing we have to fear, fear itself” or is the real world a fright-filled place? According to the Lee, the answer is both. The comparison of Jem and Scout’s fear of Boo Radley and Bob Ewell, Boo’s fear of the outside world, and Mayella’s fear of her father will are used to illustrate this point. Lee uses the theme of fear and lack of fear is used to point out the problems and prejudices in Maycomb and in the lives of the characters. To Kill A Mockingbird is told from the point of view of young Scout Finch, a lawyer’s daughter in Maycomb County, Alabama in the 1930’s. It includes the various adventures of Scout, her older brother Jem, and their friend Dill, such as their obsession with Boo Radley. The trial of a black man, Tom Robinson, accused of raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell, is the main focus of the story. Scout and Jem’s father Atticus takes on the impossible task of defending Tom Robinson, the man accused of the crime, but loses based on the jury’s racism and prejudice. Throughout the book, Maycomb’s many problems unfold and Scout and Jem grow up. Fear through the eyes of children: something meant to be scary won’t faze them, while something else can scare them half to death. Children’s fears are also easily changed and influenced by the people and problems. Jem and Scout’s fears, and lack there-of, are the perfect example of this. Jem, Scout, and Dill create this “monster next door” based on what the adults have told them abou... ... middle of paper ... ...ombination and that we shouldn’t be afraid of something due to prejudice or ignorance. By using Jem and Scout’s fear of Boo Radley and their lack of fear of Bob Ewell, Lee shows that the children are very impressionable and the adult’s prejudice can cause fears of things that don’t deserve it, like Boo. Maycomb County is a town full or judgment, gossip, and fear of the unknown. Bob Ewell was a crook with bad motives and he wasn’t feared at all, while Boo Radley was an innocent hermit because of the town’s judgment. As Jem eloquently put it, "I think I'm beginning to understand why Boo Radley stayed shut up in the house all this time…it's because he wants to stay inside." (227) The reason things were the way they were in Maycomb is because the fears and prejudices are passed down from generation to generation. Works Cited To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
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