Depiction of Discrimination in to Kill a Mockingbird
“Our generation has had no Great war, no Great Depression. Out war is spiritual. Our depression is our lives” (Chuck Palahniuk). Discrimination was most common in the 1930’s and was performed by prejudice people against others. In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, discrimination is one of the main conflicts in the story. Till this day, people still face discrimination and injustice. Throughout the novel, sexism, classism, and racism are prominent in the lives of the characters.
First of all, sexism is one of the many types of discrimination presented in the story. Sexism is when someone’s attitude changes towards one another due to stereotypes about a certain gender; specifically women in the novel. In the novel, Aunt Alexandra is very sexist towards Scout. For example, Scout says, “Aunt Alexandra’s vision of my deportment involved playing with small stoves, tea sets, and wearing the Add-A-Pearl necklace she gave me when I was born…” (Lee 237). This shows how Aunt Alexandra expects Scout to do lady-like things. Aunt Alexandra also tells Scout, “‘We decided it best for you to have some feminine influence.” (Lee 157). This adds onto how Aunt Alexandra isn’t happy with the lack of Scout’s femininity. All in all, Scout has to deal with sexism in her life even with the people she’s closest to.
Second of all, social class inequality is provided in the story. Boo Radley, specifically, was treated poorly because of living as a low-class man. For instance, Jem says, “There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time” (Lee 10). In the beginning of the book, Jem tries to imagine how Boo Radley looks like based off of what he’s heard about him being a low-class person. After meeting Boo, he realized that the way he imagined him in his head wasn’t close to how he actually looks. Later in the story, Jem says, “Boo Radley’s stayed shut up in the house all this time… because he wants to stay inside” (Lee 227). Jem explains to everyone that Boo Radley never steps outside because of all the injustice the environment brings to him and in his surroundings. To conclude, classism affected Boo emotionally and made him look at the world at another perspective.
The last prejudice talked about in the novel is racism. An example of this is during Tom Robinson’s trial. Tom is a black man who was accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman. Scout tells the audience, “Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed.” (Lee 244). This shows us how colored men couldn’t be near a white woman without looking guilty. Despite the truth, Tom is going to be guilty because he is a colored man and the white community would support their people no matter what. Furthermore, Atticus says, “In our courts, when it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s, the white man always wins.” (Lee 295). What he means by this is that a white man’s side will always be chosen because people during this time were against colored people.
In brief, there are many more forms of discrimination besides sexism, classism, and racism but those were the most obvious in the story. Inequality applied to the characters connects to the minds of the people during this period of time. By reading over what Scout, Boo Radley, and Tom went through, Lee makes her audience sympathize the characters in her novel by implying real-life situations in their lives. Not only is this a novel about discrimination, but it also teaches life lessons about diversity.