1. Many of the characters in the novel hold stereotypes about how individuals will behave as a result of their age, gender, race social status and other fixed categories. Which characters are the victims of stereotyping and by whom? Do any characters break through the behaviour expected of them, showing individuality and exposing the falseness of labelling people?
Many characters in the novel To Kill A Mockingbird hold stereotypes, the very first having the biggest influence on Scout; Arthur ‘Boo’ Radley. Arthur always stayed in his house; he never did anything to make anyone suspicious and he created no problems in the neighbourhood. However, all the children still managed to create ...view middle of the document...
He never broke free of his stereotype, after going to jail, he tried to escape and was then shot down. Many black people at that time had similar convictions with little evidence that ruined their lives, just because they didn’t have the same coloured skin as a white man.
Scout’s father, Atticus Finch also had a stereotype, he was a ‘nigger-lover’, mainly because he defended black people in court. Scout had to deal with most of this through school, friends and family, and all who said that her father Atticus was a ‘nigger-lover’. She ‘dealt’ with these situations by bullying the bully, forcing them to take back their words. Page 82 shows the beginning of these problems, “He (Cecil Jacobs) had announced in the school-yard the day before that Scout Finch’s daddy defended niggers.”
Atticus had many problems as well, not only did he have to deal with neighbourhood comments; he had to deal with Mr Ewell as well. On page 239, the scene is described in detail, “Atticus was leaving the post office when Mr Ewell approached him, cursed him, spat on him and threatened to kill him ... Miss Stephanie said Atticus didn’t bat an eye, just took out his handkerchief and wiped his face and stood there and let Mr Ewell call him names wild horses could not bring her to repeat. Mr Ewell was a veteran of an obscure war; that plus Atticus’s peaceful reaction probably prompted him to inquire, ‘Too proud to fight, you nigger-lovin’ bastard?’ Miss Stephanie said Atticus said, ‘No, too old,’ put his hands in his pockets and strolled on.” Later on, Scout and Jem even asked Atticus if Atticus would borrow a gun for protection.
Atticus never broke free from his stereotype in the novel, however he is of strong will and would show his true identity if the book continued a little while longer.
The last and most inspiring person who is caught up in the realm of stereotypes is Mrs Dubose. Although an unlikely choice for this role, Mrs Dubose has been portrayed as a monster, an animal and has been described in many horrible ways by Scout, like on page 119 where it says” Something had happened to her. She lay on her back, with the quilts up to her chin. Only her head and shoulders were visible. Her head moved slowly from side to side. From time to time she would open her mouth wide, and I could see her tongue undulate faintly. Chords of saliva would collect on her lips; she would draw them in, then open her mouth again. Her mouth seemed to have a private existence of its own. It worked separate and apart from the rest of her, out and in, like a clam hole at low tide. Occasionally it would say, ‘Pt,’ like some viscous substance coming to a boil.”
However, she was like a...