Hypocrisy and Racism in To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

Hypocrisy and Racism in To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

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Despite cultures and conflicts, the fundamental bonds remain: We all belong to a common family. The book, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee is a timeless classic about coming of age in a small southern town in the 1930’s. The book follows Jem and Scout, two siblings, who must face the harsh realities of life. Hypocrisy and racism together make the two most important themes.

Hypocrisy is as much a part of Maycomb’s society as church and community spirit. For example, Mrs. Merriweather talks about saving the poor Mruans from Africa, but she thinks black people in her community are a disgrace (p.234). The hypocrisy of this teaching is shown as soon as she mentions the word ‘persecution’. This is due to the fact that she herself is persecuting the black people of Maycomb by not raising an eyebrow at the killing of innocent black men. Furthermore, it is obvious Bob Ewell is abusive to his daughter, Mayella, and that he is the one who violated her, not Tom Robinson (p.178). Since there is such hypocrisy in Maycomb, there are excuses made for whites. The jury probably thinks that if they pronounce Tom innocent the citizens will mock them as they do to Atticus. Harper Lee uses hypocrisy to show how the people of Maycomb are so engulfed in a variety of elements that they unknowingly complete acts of unjustified discrimination.

Racism is wrought within the whole story. For example, even though Calpernia is a female, Aunt Alexandra overlooks her good work because of her race (p. 129). Blacks, because they are considered inferior, are expected to do everything for whites. People are so biased it doesn’t matter how well a job a black person does they are still frowned upon. Furthermore, the jury declares Tom Robinson guilty even though the evidence is clearly in his favor (p.211). A human being has more color pigment in their skin so it is assumed they are guilty without question; truth is never a factor. It is easy to associate the mockingbird symbol to Tom Robinson, a harmless man who becomes a victim of racial prejudice. The Maycomb community are trying to make a fool of them selves by believing they are model citizens and good Christians, even though a small number amongst them know that they are wrong to persecute and hate due to color.

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I people didn’t judge others on learned prejudices, but judged each other as they would like to be treated the world would be a better place. So thanks to the book, this proves that it’s not really the prejudice that is responsible for much social injustice. It is the people that show that prejudice to others that are responsible.
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