To Kill a Mockingbird Critical Essay

Lindsey Congdon Mrs. Peterson Period 7 December 1, 2009 To Kill a Mockingbird Essay The Dictionary defines prejudice as, “an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason. ” There has been prejudice known throughout history, mostly against the blacks during and before the time of Martin Luther King Jr. In The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee there is clear evidence of prejudice against the blacks.
In both of these novels, the readers are shown that Rosaleen Daise (The Secret Life of Bees) and Tom Robinson (To Kill a Mockingbird) are two characters affected the most by discrimination and prejudice. In both novels, the authors had one major scene showing how badly the discrimination against the blacks was during that time. In To Kill a Mockingbird, it was demonstrated during the court scene where Tom Robinson was charged for raping Mayella Ewell. Mr.
Bob Ewell’s testimony included that “‘Mayella was raisin’ this holy racket so I dropped m’load and run as fast as I could but I run into th’ fence, but when I distangled myself I run up to th’ window and I seen… I seen that black nigger yonder ruttin’ on my Mayella! ’” (Lee172) In The Secret Life of Bees, it was when Rosaleen went to town to register to vote and took Lily with her. She was stopped by some white men that didn’t believe black people should be treated equally and have the right to vote.

When Rosaleen responded to their insults by drizzling her spit on their shoes they beat her up and she was sent to hospital type jail. Both scenes resulted in unfair treatment of the blacks: Tom Robinson was pronounced guilty by a jury of white men even though the evidence suggested otherwise. Rosaleen was beaten, by having the men “lunge at her, and everything started to spin. There was Rosaleen, grabbed and thrashing side to side, swinging the men like pocketbooks on her arms, and the men yelling for her to apologize and clean their shoes. (Kidd 32) If Tom Robinson was a white man in To Kill a Mockingbird he would have been proven innocent, and the evidence would have convicted Mr. Ewell of the crime. Also, if the jury was half black the verdict would also be different, but since the whites did not believe that colored people were equal to them, no blacks were allowed on the jury. Similarly, in The Secret Life of Bees, if Rosaleen was white woman she would not have been stopped in the first place and she would not have gotten into that situation. Being black made the difference.
Tom Robinson and Rosaleen Daise both had at least one friend, a white friend. Their friend was someone who they could trust to be looking out for them. Rosaleen had Lily, who rescued her from being thrown into jail by getting her out of the hospital and escaping with her. Tom Robinson had Atticus Finch and the entire Finch household. They all believed in him even though he was a black man and it was a black man’s word against a white man’s. Even when everyone turned away, and each of these characters was threatened with being killed, Atticus and Lily protected them from harm.
Atticus protected Tom by guarding the jail during the night when, “four dusty cars came in from the Meridian highway, moving slowly in a line. ” (Lee151) When these cars came, out of them came drunken men with only one purpose: to kill Tom Robinson and to hurt Atticus if he got in his way. These men probably would have prevailed too, if Scout, Jem, and Dill had not come to see Atticus and help him. In The Secret Life of Bees, Lily Owens, when Rosaleen was getting beat up, she tries to stop it but it unsuccessful. Therefore, she “had to get away from T.
Ray, who was probably on his way back this minute to do Lord-knows-what to me. Not to mention I had to get Rosaleen out of jail. ” (Kidd41) Therefore, she saves Rosaleen from jail and together they head off to Tiburon, South Carolina, in search of the Black Madonna. In both of these novels, the readers are shown that Rosaleen Daise and Tom Robinson are two characters affected the most by discrimination and prejudice. People would like to believe that if they lived back during the 1930’s that they would not be the ones discriminating against the colored folks. However, even today, there are subtle prejudices in society.
A white person is still a little afraid when walking alone in a black neighborhood. There are areas of our country where black people are still called ‘nigger’ by white people. During the time of these novels it was not so easy to go against the normal rules of society and people are often influenced by peers and family members. Luckily, like Atticus Finch and Lily Owens, there are often individuals whose strength and strong belief in right and wrong are not influenced by what others think. People must strive to be individuals who are not influenced by the prejudices of their society.

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