Themes in To Kill a Mockingbird

English Lit. Prose

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  • Created on: 12-04-11 11:00


  • Maycomb thrives on prejudice- nearly all members of the county are prejudiced against others, or are victims of prejudice.
  • There is racial prejudice, class prejudice and prejudice against individuals who do not fit in.
  • Characters who suffer against prejudice in the novel are Boo Radley, Tom Robinson, the Ewell family (and Dolphus Raymond).
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Racism ( Characters with racist attitudes)

  • Majority of the white population of Maycomb is racist- the black community live on the outskirts and do menial jobs.

The Sheriff When he arrested Boo Radley (suspected of stabbing his father in the leg with a pair of scissors) he "hadn't the heart to put him in the jail alongside Negroes". Mrs Dubose She tells the children: "Your father's no better than the ******* and trash he works for!" Aunt Alexandra She doesn't like to talk about important matters "in front of Calpurnia and them". Scout's cousin Francis He claims that Atticus is "ruining the family" by taking on the Robinson case. Mr Cunningham He's part of a mob of men who would have lynched Tom Robinson, had Atticus not been on guard outside the jail.

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Racism (Characters with anit-racist attitudes)

  • There are only a few people who are open-minded and realise that racism is wrong.

Atticus He hates the town's racist attitude and refers to it as "Maycomb's usual disease". Miss Maudie She is proud of "those people in this town who say that fair play is not marked White Only." Jem He can't believe that the jury can convict an innocent man just because he is black. "It ain't right!" he says. Scout She sees the hypocrisy of her teacher who opposes Hitler but supports the Tom's conviction. "It's not right to persecute anybody, is it?"

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Class Prejudice


  • There is prejudice against people's social standing. In Maycomb there are strict class division lines .

Aunt Alexandra Aunt Alexandra is obsessed with the superiority of the Finch family, part of the local white aristocracy. She doesn't allow Scout to play with Walter Cunningham because... The Cunninghams The Cunninghams are lower class whites - poor farmers, badly hit by the Depression. However they are a better class of people than... The Ewells They are 'White Trash' - the lowest class of whites - uneducated and poor. But even they look down upon... The Blacks The black community is automatically seen as at the bottom of the class system, yet since the abolition of slavery, the boundaries between them and the Ewells is less clear. This is one reason why Mr Ewell is so racist

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Prejudice against Individuals


  • Boo Radley is also a victim of prejudice because he does not comform to other's expectations of how Maycomb society should behave.
  • Most of the town are prejudiced against Boo, local gossip portrays him as a malevolent phantom
  • Yet a very few people accept him for what he is. Miss Maudie remembers him when he was a boy who always spoke nicely; and Atticus tries to make the children understand him and not torment him. By the end of the novel, the children respect him too.
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