.. rassment was a subject too mature for their age. The childrens innocence allows them to see through the artificial barrier of colour and to accept and individual for what they are. Harper Lee uses Atticus and his relationship with his children to integrate the themes of growing up and the law. Atticus raises his children according to his principles.
His teachings to his children come back to reward him. For example he explains to his daughter Scout how the Cunningham family is poor but proud enough that they do not accept charity. This stimulates enough questions in her young mind that when the she is at the jail when the Lynch Mob arrives she effectively saves Tom Robinsons life by unnerving the mob with innocent questions about Walter Cunningham. In her innocent gesture, Scout makes Mr. Cunningham realise that he is a father, not just part of a mob, and, in a sense, he walks around in Atticus skin for a moment. Atticus demonstrates great bravery in defending Tom Robinson. Much of the White community turns against him and even take out their rage on his children.
Children like Cecil Jacobs and Francis both tease Scout about her father being a nigger lover. Aunt Alexandra feels that Atticus was bringing the family name down. Despite this Atticus does not compromise his morals or allow his children to do so. The children in Maycomb are influenced very much by their relations. This leads to many children picking up what comes from their parents My folks said your daddy was a disgrace an that Nigger oughta hang from the watertank! Absurd actions often interfere with young ones making them act in the same manner.
Bob and Mayella Ewell portray the white trash of Maycomb. Knowing the low esteem associated with the name Ewell they strive to control people and maintain the status of untouchables. The Ewells do not go to school, do not accept charity, and do not recognise African-Americans as real human beings. To accentuate his status Bob Ewell dehumanises the African-American, calling them niggers and treating them like animals. The trial becomes a stage for another one of the Ewells games, a game for the whole town to witness.
The actions of this lead to dyer consequences. The Ewells answer to no one and remain immune to the results of such actions. A different type of prejudice shown in the novel is class prejudice. It is unconsciously shown by Scout as well as a few of her compatriots on her first day at school. They attributed certain qualities to each family in Maycomb and expected these traits to be hereditary. For example the reason which Scout gave as to why Walter refused the quarter which Miss. Fisher offered was because he is a Cunningham and the reason why Burris was so dirty and impudent was, as far as the children were concerned, was because he is one of the Ewells. This shows the complacent way in which class prejudice is treated within Maycomb, in Maycomb it is just taken for granted, no questions asked.
In fact the children, in stating these characteristics of the Cunninghams and the Ewells did not even realise that they were being prejudiced, they had just been brought up that way. Later, when Jem invited Walter to teal Scout criticised his table manners. Calpurnia and Atticus were angry with Scout by saying that Walter was company and could eat whatever he wanted. When Scout retaliated by saying that Walter wad not company that he was just a Cunningham, Calpurnia did not let that serve as an excuse for humiliating him. In this way Calpurnia tried to stop Scout gaining the class prejudice of Maycomb and to treat all people equally.
When Scout innocently wanted to befriend Walter Cunningham, a farmers boy, Aunt Alexandra responded saying Finch women arent interested in that sort of people. Scout vainly protested this bias and could not understand why two people could not be friends, regardless of monetary or scholarly status. Aunt Alexandra is part of the Ladies Missionary Circle, which is a group, which spreads the Christian faith in the community, but in this case they turn out to be the small town gossips. The ladies of the missionary circle speak with compassion for the neglected tribes of Africa while insulting and demeaning the Negroes who work in their homes. The Missionary tea ladies comments about the Blacks is more than evident within the trial, they were part of a large group of people who overlooked all the evidence in favour of Tom Robinson at the trial, just because he was Black. This is very typical of such a group as it is all a group of white people.
Another aspect of Maycomb society is shown through they hypocritical prejudice shown at school. During school, where the teacher is explaining the difference between democracy and dictatorship, the teacher uses the United States as an example, Scout wonders how they can call themselves a democracy when they are still prejudice against Negroes. The irony of Miss. Gates lecture on democracy compared to her comments at the trial is evident. The irony is that US will be changing to make it fair between Black and White in order to become a true democracy.
Scouts teacher plays a game of being a sympathetic southern school teacher. She appears to be the perfect gentle woman, set in tradition and very sympathetic to the less fortunate, such as the Jews in Germany who suffer persecution. She says Persecution comes from those who are prejudiced. Miss. Gates part also includes the confidence in her higher stature, though she sensibly plays the part down.
Many other towns-women also model themselves after; they become role models. They set distinctions that result in the traditions of the town. The Black church in Maycomb, which was a place of worship on Sunday, is described as a gambling house for white men on week days. This again highlights that segregation was not only evident in public buildings but places of worship too. When Calpurnia takes Jem and Scout to her church the Black members of the congregation take their hats of to them in respect.
However Lula has great antagonism towards them. Lula felt that because all the white churches in town were segregated, why should white people be allowed in Black churches. This shows that the hatred between the two races works both ways. Scout finds the church service to be similar to her own except fro a few differences. One of them which shock Jem and Scout greatly is the fact that Helen Robinson, Toms wife is collecting money, and not letting anyone go until enough money has been collected The reason why she is collecting money when she has the ability to work and earn her own money is because as her husband was being charged for a crime like that, no one would employ Helen.
Even Atticus the character intended to have exceptional principles and morals reflects the influences of being raised in the midst of southern traditions. When Calpurnia rides with him to tell of Tom Robinsons death, she rides in the back seat. This she probably does by choice, as she is well aware of the controversy she may create if she was to ride in the front seat with Atticus. Few whites in Maycomb were actually willing to suffer the shame and discrimination by other whites bought by treating a black as an equal. The first sign of prejudice in the novel is shown by the Finch children regarding Boo Radley.
They see him as a type of monster or a malevolent phantom as Scout so aptly put it. People were misunderstood because they were never really given a chance to become known. Boo Radley is a perfect example of one who was misunderstood, as shown by how Jem, Scout and Dill thought hell kill us each and everyone. Boo too, was an outsider he was a man who kept away from society, as he seemed to fear it. Boo was a man who was misunderstood and because of this he suffered injustice.
Boo did not handle the injustice because he did not know about it. Harper Lees novel portrays themes which are as relevant today as they were at the time of its setting. Some children are influenced by society, but the innocence of some children prove vital in areas of the novel. An awful lot about Maycomb Society is learnt through the trial, and experience, which the whole community seems to share. The traits, which the trial reveals about Maycomb Society, are generally evident elsewhere in the book. For example these include racism, prejudice, gender bias, class system, narrow and strict codes of behaviour and gossip.
Throughout the story To kill a Mockingbird, people were placed in symbolic and actual prisons. The important thing is that these people conquered and broke-free from their own imprisonment. The same challenges and follies that were present in the novel are also present in our communities; by reading To kill a mocking bird we can learn from the characters lives and possibly gain insight to our own.