Sterotyping in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
1088 Words5 Pages
Topic 1: Stereotyping.
The novel, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is based on the experiences of one girl, Scout, growing up in Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930s. The novel explains some conflicts in Scout’s life. Scout, the main character, learns that things are not always morally correct and is confronted with the reality of prejudice and stereotyping. Scout struggles with understanding the prejudice and stereotyping she witnesses. Atticus Finch, Scout's father, "with his strongly held convictions, wisdom, and empathy, Atticus functions as the novel's moral backbone." (2). Atticus tries to raise his children to be fair and nonjudgmental. It is through the lessons of Atticus and Scout's experiences with discrimination that the reader sees and understands the evils of prejudice and stereotyping.
Prejudice and stereotyping are portrayed in many forms in the novel. Characters in the book suffer stereotyping due to race, age, social status, and gender. Prejudicing and stereotyping seem to be as common to the people of Maycomb as anything. Early in the novel, Scout along with Jem, her brother, and Dill, their neighbor, decide to look into the window of the Radley place, where the neighborhood creep, Boo Radley, lives. Their snooping alerts Nathan Radley, Boo's older brother, who fires a gun to scare off whoever was there. When the other neighbors meet to find the source of the loud noise, they automatically assume the culprit is black. When someone asked if the person was shot, Miss Stephanie says, "Shot in the air. Scared him pale, though. Says if anybody sees a white n***** around, that's the one." (1). The racial slur is spoken as casually as can be. This shows how socially acceptable this rude behavior was in the 1930s.
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...oes not encounter Boo again for a while, he remains on her mind and her interest about him turns from meaningless pondering to an honest wish for neighborly communication.
When Scout does finally meet Boo, after he saves the children from Bob Ewell, she is in amazement. She embraces Boo as if they had been friends their whole lives. She absorbs the lesson her father had been trying to teach her "Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them." (1). Scout stands on the porch of the Radley house and understands that it hasn't been a monster watching them grow up, it has been a caring and gentle man. It is at this time Scout learns that prejudice and stereotyping hurts everyone, it is excruciating for those suffering from it, and those that are prejudice are robbing themselves of amazing experiences.