Prejudice in To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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Prejudice in To Kill A Mockingbird

Prejudice is a strong word. In the novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, a black man, Tom Robinson, was accused of raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell, and was brought to trial. There were distinct views concerning Tom Robinson's innocence – views influenced by prejudice. The townspeople of Maycomb believed in Tom's guilt while Atticus and the children believed in Tom's innocence.

The townspeople, from day one, knew what the verdict was going to be even though some of them knew deep down that Tom did not rape Mayella. "The older citizens, the present generation of people who had lived side by side for years and years, were utterly predictable to one another: they took for granted attitudes, character shadings, even gestures, as having been repeated in each generation and refined by time" (Lee page #). The townspeople didn't like black people at all. They were two different kinds of people according to them, and the fact that a white man would stand up for a black man in that town got them very upset. "Yeah, but Atticus aims to defend him. That's what I don't like about it" (Lee page #). The townspeople viewed this case as a circus. "It was a gala occasion. There was no room at the public hitching trail for another animal, mules and wagons were parked under every available tree. The courthouse square was covered with picnic parties sitting on newspapers, washing down biscuit and syrup with warm milk from fruit jars" (Lee page #). This was more like entertainment for the townspeople. This was fun for them, talking with friends, having lunch, and joking. It was really sad that they were so prejudiced against the black people.

Atticus was unable to bring about a just verdict because he was in a very prejudiced court and, regardless of the proof, the outcome would still be the same. Atticus knew that Tom Robinson would be found guilty. The victim, Mayella, had been beaten, but not by Tom. Tom Robinson would still be convicted because of the all-white jury. Tom didn't help by saying, "Yes suh. I felt sorry for her, she seemed to try more'n the rest of 'em--" (Lee page #). After all, black people were not supposed to care about white people. It would have been impossible for Tom to do to Mayella what she said he did: "Tom Robinson's powerful shoulders rippled with his right hand on the back of his chair.

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