To Kill A Mockingbird is a novel which can deceive the reader into thinking that it is very simple. However, if the reader delves beneath the surface, she may find that there are a number of complex themes running through the novel. One of the central themes in this novel is the prejudice that was characteristic of southern town in the 1930?s. A variety of prejudices combine to form the character of the town of Maycomb. The three main prejudices encountered are those of race, class, and sex.
The prejudice of race, in the novel, makes the words of a lower-class white woman from a ne?er do well family readily accepted against those of a Negro with an upstanding reputation. When Tom Robinson is accused of rape by Mayella Ewell, southern society and societal prejudice against blacks must be upheld. In spite of the flimsiness of Mayella?s accusation against a black man whose one arm is withered, the white of Maycomb are bound to believe Mayella simply because she is white. Despite Tom?s upstanding reputation, the people of Maycomb cannot allow a white woman?s accusation go unanswered because doing so would make the white element seem less superior.
For these reasons the people of Maycomb form a mob in an attempt to persuade Atticus to drop his defense of Tom Robinson. Even though most people have a less than high opinion of the Ewells, there is still that overriding solidarity that they feel must be shown against the Negro. The blacks live in their section of town, and the whites live in their section of town. This clear division must be maintained is southern society, as represented by Maycomb, is to survive.
This idea of a clear division is enforce by Aunt Al...
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...ly capable of taking care of themselves. Scout is constantly told to ?act like a lady?, ?dress like a lady?, and remember to keep her place. Her place seems to be with the women, who have no real role in the business of the town. Even Atticus explains to Jem and Scout that women are not allowed to serve on juries simply because they are women. He comments that women are too talkative and that justice would be halted or impeded by their many questions if they were allowed to serve on juries.
These three forms of prejudice ? race, class, and sex -- are integrated into the novel and the society of Maycomb, which serves as a symbol of the southern way of life in the 1930?s. With these tools, Lee creates a graphic picture of a restrictive society which prefers to cling blindly to what has always been, rather than change its ways and accept change and progress.
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