To Kill a Mockingbird
William Hazlitt once said “Prejudice is the child of ignorance”. In To Kill a Mockingbird the author, Harper Lee, illustrates this idea through real life events. The three main types of prejudice are racial, social and gender. As Scout and Jem mature they both see all the evil that is in their small, old town of Maycomb, Alabama. In Maycomb the same families have been living there for a long time so the same families are passing on their ignorance generation to generation causing the prejudice that affects so many people in the town. Prejudice is driven by ignorance.
At the beginning of To Kill a Mockingbird we are introduced to a character that no one knows, Boo Radley. He is a mysterious figure that Scout, Jem and Dill are intrigued to see. Jem and Scout had heard rumors of Boo Radley from people, they said he was a malevolent phantom, that he went out when it was dark and commited small crimes and ate squirrels and and anything else he could catch. Jem would always run across the sidewalk when passing the Radley place on his way to school. Jem and Scout were scared out of ignorance, they believed everything they heard from other people but never actually had a hint of any knowledge about Boo Radley or why never comes out of his house. They start to receive gifts from Boo although they don’t know it right away because it was in the knot of an old tree by the Radley lot. They continue to receive gifts such as a spelling bee medal and two soap dolls but one day when Jem was going to check the tree he saw Mr. Radley filling the knot with cement. Jem was very sentimental about this because he thought that Mr Radley was being cruel to Boo, not letting him communicate with anybody. This is when the children began to believe that Boo was not the ghost that he believed to be.
Secondly is the case against Tom Robinson. Tom Robinson, a Negro, was accused of raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell who is the daughter of Bob Ewell the nastiest man in Maycomb. During the trial Atticus, the defendants lawyer, asks Heck Tate about Mayellas injuries, he says that she had been beaten and bruised, with a black eye on the right side of her face. Atticus then asks Bob Ewell to write his name on an envelope. Bob Ewell does as he is told and Atticus notices that he is left handed. This proves that Tom Robinson could not have beat her because he cannot even move his left arm because he got it caught in a cotton gin when he was twelve. If Bob Ewell was left handed it would make perfect sense that he could have beat Mayella and bruised her right eye. It also makes sense with Tom Robinson’s story.
That Mayella was trying to hug him and kiss him and Bob Ewell saw her and beat her because it was the lowest thing a white person could do, kiss a black man. All the evidence was there and against Bob Ewell but when the jury came out, they said Tom was guilty. This an example of racial prejudice, just because the colour of the man convicted of rape was black the jury said he was guilty due to ignorance. It would be almost blasphemous to let a black man walk away from any crime he was accused of committing; the jury ignored all the evidence simply because Tom Robinson was black.
Lastly is the gender prejudice that comes up frequently during the events in this book. The most specific or main event showing gender prejudice is after the trial. Jem asked Atticus why people like them and Miss. Maudie could not serve in the jury. Atticus told Jem that Miss. Maudie could not serve in the trial because she was a woman. Scout was quite confused with why women could not be in the jury. This is an example of gender prejudice because men are too ignorant to realize that woman are equal or even acknowledge the fact that they can choose to act how they please, not follow the stereotypical or traditional way of how to act like a woman or dress like one. There are many more examples of gender prejudice but this is the only example that directly states and shows it.
Through all of Jem and Scouts journey they have experienced many types of prejudice and have tryed to deal with them. The root of prejudice is the ignorance. Ignorance of narrow minded people who assume things without having any knowledge of the matter. I do not know if there is a way to stop prejudice but in Chapter 3 Atticus tells Scout “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” This means that you should not assume things about a person until you actually try to understand and see things from their perspective.