Fear of Change in To Kill a Mockingbird
In Harper Lee’s book To Kill a Mockingbird expresses the fear of change. Fear of change is very relevant in this story because with the fear of change comes prejudice, violence, and compassion.
Prejudice is common in the 1930s setting of To Kill a Mockingbird. Many of the families had been in Maycomb since the Battle of Hasting. Change was not usual in this sleepy town, with a trial of what seemed like the century to this small community. People, young and old, were forced to wake up and face their greatest fear……change. The town has an ignorance of their prejudice they believe that what they believe is right and that is that. Scouts’ teacher proves just what most Maycomb County believes.
“Over here we don’t believe in persecuting anybody. Persecution comes from people who are prejudiced.” (pg. 248) In class Miss Gates was discussing Hitler persecuting the Jews and how awful he was and not realizing it by saying that she was being a hypocrite. She believed that “there are no better people in the world than Jews.” (pg.
248) Miss Gates believed that putting innocent people in concentration camps was wrong but sending an innocent man to jail was acceptable. “…I guess it ain’t your fault if Uncle Atticus is a ******lover besides, but I am here to tell you it certainly does mortify the rest of the family…” (pg. 87) Family even began to insult Atticus because of the reputation he was making of himself in the town. Scout and Jem receive taunts by children, adults, and even family members for the Atticus’s involvement as the defense attorney in the case against Tom Robinson. The Maycomb populations’ prejudices began to boil over to hate. The children begin to realize that Maycomb County is turned upside down.
Scout hears the adults talking before and after the trial and do not understand how some of the teachers and ladies in the town can talk about helping others when they are oppressing the people living across the street from them. Scout experiences that first hand with her teacher. “Well, coming out of the courthouse that night Miss Gates was- she was goin’ down the steps in front of us, you musta not seen her- she was talking with Miss Stephanie Crawford. I heard her say it’s time somebody taught ‘em a lesson, they were getting’ way above themselves, an’ the next thing they think they can do is marry us. Jem, how can you hate Hitler so bad an’ then turn around and be ugly about the folks right at home –”(pg.
249) Scout from various experiences learn that many people in her town do not practice what they preach. They are stuck in tradition and if they believe something than it is right even if it means killing an innocent person. Violence plays a huge part in To Kill a Mockingbird. Towards the end of the book you see that Scout and Jem are not immune to the violence portrayed in the book. Bob Ewell expresses his prejudice in violence.
Bob Ewell after the trial was viewed worse than a black man. Everybody knew that he daughter had tried to seduce a black man and the town was talking. Bob went as far as to hurt Atticus’s kids to get back at him. The violence was a cover up for the embarrassment and hate Bob had for black people and any people that stood in his way and made a mockery of him. Atticus on the stand had made a fool of him and Bob knew it.
The judge to Bob Ewell had made a joke of him in front of the whole town. Prejudice was the only reason Tom Robinson was put in jail and Bob Ewell and the whole town knew that.