Discrimination is defined as acts or attitudes based on prejudice, unfairness or injustice towards a particular group of people. In our current times there is still discrimination, some of which stems from long ago. “To Kill a Mockingbird” takes place in the early 1930s when discrimination was not only tolerated, it was encouraged by many. The types of discrimination in this novel are much more extreme than they are today.
Times have changed and there is still prejudice, unfairness, and injustice for many; however, it doesn’t compare to how different times were when this book takes place and the discrimination people had to go through. Boo Radley is a young man who has grown up dealing with social discrimination from his family and the community around him. He has dealt with his family being ashamed of him, and the small southern town that he has grown up in ignoring him. In addition to Boo Radley, there is another character in this book that experienced discrimination; Tom Robinson went through racial discrimination.
He is treated like a second class citizen when he is falsely accused of raping a white woman. Because of the colour of his skin, others believed the lies told about him and as a result he was punished for a crime he didn’t commit. In “To Kill a Mockingbird”, there are many types of discrimination but there are two that stand out the most; social discrimination and racial discrimination are shown by Tom Robinson and Boo Radley. In Maycomb Boo Radley is a social outcast.
His father did not want him to go to public schools and instead kept him in his house. Because of this, rumours started to spread about Boo Radley being insane and that Boo stabbed his father in the leg with scissors and as a consequence his father chained him up in the house. For these rumours kids in Maycomb feared Boo. “What are you doin’ way out here by yourself, boy? Ain’t you scared of Boo Radley? ” This quote is of one of the boys who came upon Jem who is wandering in the dark; it is an example of what the people in the town thought of Boo.
They were scared of Boo and told stories about him (all of which they had made up) when they didn’t know what Boo was really like, and because of these stories Boo was portrayed as an outsider. A great deal of the social discrimination Boo experienced was due to the fact that people in the town weren’t familiar with him and were scared of the unknown, and in order to explain Boo and try and understand him, they made up stories. Tom Robinson was an outcast in Maycomb for the colour of his skin. Tom Robinson is a black man who is accused of raping Mayella Ewell, the white daughter of Bob Ewell.
The story is that Mayella tried to seduce Tom and was caught by her father; he was exceedingly mad seeing this and beat his daughter. Then to cover up what his daughter did he accused Tom of raping her to cover up the shame she had brought to the family. The first injustice began because everyone in Maycomb believed Bob Ewell’s straight away because he was white, and only other black citizens believed Tom Ewell’s story. Tom was married with children and in the book is portrayed to be a very polite and kind man.
The whole thing went to trial and Atticus, who was Tom’s lawyer, argued that Tom couldn’t have been the one to hit Mayella because of an injury to his left arm when Mayella was clearly beaten in the face by someone using their left arm. In any court today that would prove innocence, or at least give the jury reasonable doubt that it could of been Tom that abused Mayella. However because the jury couldn’t bear the thought of a black person winning a trial over a white person, he was found guilty and sentenced to death. He then tried to escape from jail, but was shot dead.
The following quote is from the sheriff of Maycomb County “There’s a black boy dead for no reason, and the man responsible for it is dead. Let the dead bury the dead this time, Mr. Finch. Let the dead bury the dead” the Sheriff is suggesting there has been enough tragedy and it is now time to move on. It is said in a sad, resigned manner. So after all most of the town knew that Tom Robinson was innocent they just couldn’t admit it to themselves. This book has two very good examples of discrimination: Social discrimination and racial discrimination.
In our times we don’t see the same types of discrimination that they lived through in this book, and the rights of people are protected by strict laws that say every person is equal. There are still many forms of discrimination in our society today, but you can see we have come a long way when you look at characters like Boo Radley and Tom Robinson. Boo was socially discriminated against and looked down upon and because he was different. Through no fault of his own, he was made to stay in his house. The town who didn’t know him made judgements about him and rom that came all the stories that were told about him. This caused him to be a social outcast. Tom Robinson received the worst of the two because he was discriminated against for something that he had no control over – his skin colour, and this eventually led to his death. He was accused of something he didn’t do, and because of the colour of his skin he was given an unfair trial. He was a good and honest man and nobody could accept the truth, that he was innocent, because they had distaste against him because he was black.
This book opened my eyes to the harsh discrimination that people actually had to go through in that time. The ways in which white people in that day and age completely disengaged themselves from black people is wrong and horrible, they picked on others on things that one cannot change making themselves seem superior. There is a lot that can be learned from this book, one of the most important lessons is not to judge someone based on a certain stereotype or rumours that have circulated.