The Greatest Friend Of Truth Is Time, Her Greatest Enemy Is Prejudice And Her Constant Companion Is Humility

1344 words - 6 pages

Scout: “You aren’t really a nigger-lover, then, are you?”
Atticus: “I certainly am. I do my best to love everybody…”
Analyse how the theme of prejudice pervades the novel To Kill a Mockingbird.
Prejudice stems from several interconnected factors: the absence of self-respect and moral education and the presence of ignorance. The lack of self-respect can lead to an individual feeling unsatisfied with themselves and when this happens, they instinctively lower others in order to raise themselves up. This leads to ignorance as one does not empathise with someone that they have dehumanised, thus they cannot gain knowledge of the other person leading them to assume knowledge without evidence. ...view middle of the document...

However, when Scout narrates, ‘His (Robinson’s) left arm was fully twelve inches shorter that his right…it ended in a small shrivelled hand…and it was no use to him’ the shocking revelation of Tom’s disability makes apparent to both the reader and the townsfolk that he is innocent and that Mr Ewell is the true culprit. As he does not interact with Tom, he becomes ignorant of the fact that Tom could not have possibly inflicted the injuries sustained by Mayella. Through Bob Ewell’s lack of self-respect, he covers up his faults by using his own and the town’s prejudice against Negroes to have Tom convicted for rape. This case is similar to the Scottsboro Trials that Lee experienced in 1931 where 9 men were accused of raping 2 women. They too were charged due to the prejudicial nature of Monroeville, Alabama, Lee’s hometown. These prejudices lead to serious consequences for Tom as he was killed without reason and also for Mr Ewell himself, whose credibility is ruined as he becomes dishonoured by the rest of the townsfolk.
Moral education is extremely important in the development of child. Without this crucial element in a young person’s life, they may grow up to become ignorant prejudiced. This is demonstrated in Chapter 11 when Scout asks her father ‘You aren’t really a nigger-lover, then, are you?’ to which he replies, ‘I certainly am. I do my best to love everybody.’ The straight-forward tone and irony in Atticus’ answer show that he respects himself and others as he is unafraid to admit to being a ‘nigger-lover’. Through answering Scout’s question in this manner, Atticus is trying to instil the positive attributes in her so that she may mature into an unprejudiced person. He is proven successful when the adult Scout is giving a brief introduction of Boo Radley. The repetition of ‘people said’ and significant word choice of ‘according to neighbourhood legend’ show that Scout no longer holds negative views of others after she has developed into an unbiased being. The lack of moral education can hold severe consequences and is conveyed through the prejudice of the townsfolk against Boo Radley. Through the contrast of the perception of Boo’s appearance-‘There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face…teeth he had were yellow and rotten …’- and the reality-‘His cheeks were thin to hollowness…and his grey eyes were so colourless’- the dangers of ignorance are exposed. The townsfolk are ignorant of the fact that no one has ever seen Boo in person and fall victim to ‘Maycomb’s usual disease.’ This metaphor conveys the idea that ignorance is infectious and unless people are morally educated, they will eventually succumb to it and become prejudiced beings. Through the townsfolk’s lack of education, they allow their minds to be swayed by falsehoods and become increasingly...

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