Although the character of Boo Radley does not reveal himself until the end of the
novel, he is important to all of the themes present in `To Kill a Mockingbird' One of the
more dominant themes is prejudice. There are two main types of prejudice that are
explored in the novel; racial prejudice, social prejudice and fear of the unknown.
Racial prejudice is present throughout the novel in the people of Maycomb's everyday
life, as it is a novel set in the `deep south' of America in the 1930's. This is a period
shortly after the American civil war, so slavery's abolishment had occurred not long ago.
Because this had not been around for long, most people's attitudes towards Negroes had
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One person that contrasts this, however, is Atticus. He does not believe
in discriminating a person because of the colour of their skin. This is shown by the way
that he defends Tom Robinson as best he can, the fact that Tom Robinson is black does
not affect him. Racial prejudice does not connect directly with Boo Radley, but Boo can
be connected with Tom Robinson, who is a victim of racial prejudice. The connection is
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that they are both `Mockingbirds' of the novel, and are both victims of prejudice.
Another form of prejudice quite similar to racial is social prejudice. Some members of
the Maycomb society are discriminated against by others due to their social status. Aunt
Alexandra is a prime example of this; her whole attitude towards everything is based
upon social status. She considers herself to be higher up the social ladder than quite a
few people, including Walter Cunningham."Because-he-is-trash" This is the reason that
Aunt Alexandra gives when Scout asks why she cannot speak to Walter Cunningham.
This whole `trashy' view of Walter Cunningham is based purely on the fact that he is
part of a family that are very poor, she seems not to care about Walter's personal
values.The Ewell family are also victims of social prejudice. The whole family is looked
down upon because of he way the father, Robert Ewell' is irresponsible. The family is
made out to be, again `trashy'. Although some other members of the family are just
plain nasty. Like Burris. "Ain't no snot-nosed slut of a school teacher ever born c'n make
me do nothing" Burris' use of language gains him the title of a "real mean one". But not
the whole family is like this. Mayella is not as "mean" as others in her family, she has a
sensitive side, as it is mentioned that she looks after flowers that could "rival Miss
Maudie's" Boo Radley is a victim of social prejudice just like Mayella Ewell and the
Cunningham's. The whole Radley family suffers social prejudice because Boo hadn't been
seen for years, and people didn't know where Mrs. Radley was. Prejudice is directed
towards some characters of the novel because they do not fit into Maycomb's usual
behavioural patterns of society and little is known of them. This prejudice is fuelled by
fear, which leads to rumour, which leads to superstition.Boo Radley is a victim of this
fear of the unknown. The children fear him, as the rest of Maycomb does, and as a
result, there are many rumours about him. Most of these rumours are started and
spread by Miss Stephanie. For example, she claimed that she woke up in the night, and
saw Boo looking in at her through her window. The people of Maycomb liked to believe
that any unsolved, mysterious, crimes were the work of Boo due to these rumours. One
example is the `Crazy Addie' incident. Before and even after the `Crazy Addie' incident
was solved - Boo was innocent -, the people still believed it was Boo. Another example is
when Mrs. Radley dies and...