H. Freshman English
11 January 2014
Prejudice and Bias in To Kill a Mockingbird
The Webster’s Dictionary definition of prejudice is “an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.” Prejudice can create fallacious bias towards a subject or person. In the book To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee creates Jem and Scout to support her opinion on the topic of prejudice and bias. Lee portrays Jem and Scout and their relationships with other characters in the novel to demonstrate how prejudice is created through initial impressions and is over come by first hand experiences with the issue. Jem and his relationship with Mrs. Dubose show that prejudice is created by initial impressions and is overcome by first hand experiences with the issue. In the middle of the novel Jem and Scout are walking into town, minding their own business when they pass Mrs. Dubose, when she starts to badger Jem. Stating her bias that his “father was no better than the niggers and trash he works for” (102). This statement of blatant ignorance gives Jem the conception that Mrs. Dubose is just an old lady with nothing better to do than torment two children; he forms this notion of prejudice regarding Mrs. Dubose. The consequence of Dubose’s assumption causes Jem to act imprudently, “[Jem] did not begin to calm down until he had cut off the tops of every camellia bush Mrs. Dubose had owned” (103). This outburst was a result of Mrs. Dubose’s revulsion towards Atticus and his acceptance to racial equality. In turn she creates hostility between Jem and Scout; during this point in the book Jem and Mrs. Dubose both have a mutual spite due to their preconceived prejudice. The consequence for Jem’s outburst was to read to Mrs. Dubose daily. Later in the book the frail woman dies after having Jem come to read to her for a solid month. Atticus breaks the news to Jem revealing that “Mrs. Dubose was a morphine addict” (111). Jem...
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