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Effects of Intolerance in Society

Uploaded by omega on May 24, 2001

In society, many people tend to reject those who are different. In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee presents a number of situations that reveal the effects of intolerance on other people’s lives. The characters in the novel who were treated with a lack of intolerance were Boo Radley, Atticus Finch and Tom Robinson. By observing the effects of intolerance on people’s lives, the children gain sympathy, respect and understanding for its victims.

The children gain sympathy for Boo Radley when they observe how others reject him. Ever since his teenage years, Boo had been a prisoner in his own home because his father kept him locked up as a form of punishment. As a result of his isolationism, Boo gained the reputation of Maycomb’s mysterious man. Town folk have created rumours about Boo for a source of gossip. Miss Stephanie, known as the “neighbourhood scold”, told the children that “Boo drove the scissors into his parent’s leg, pulled them out, wiped them on his pants, and resumed his activities” (Lee 11). Jem Finch was another culprit who succeeded in spreading rumours about Boo Radley. The young and mischievous Jem told Dill that “[Boo] dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch” (13). It appeared that the townspeople were blinded by their own stupidity by harassing the helpless Boo Radley. Boo was never given a chance to prove his humanity to the town. Although they assisted in tormenting Boo at first, the children ended up feeling sympathetic toward him. “I think I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley stayed shut up in his house all this time... it’s because he wants to stay inside” (227). In conclusion, we could recognize Boo as the silent hero of Maycomb who was driven away from the cruelty of society.

The children gain respect for Atticus when they see how he is treated with intolerance late one night. Atticus had always been one of Maycomb’s most respected men before the Tom Robinson’s trial. Atticus was at the county jail to protect Tom Robinson when he was joined by angry townspeople. These townspeople wanted to kill Robinson but Atticus stood his ground by telling them “you can turn around and go home” (151). These townspeople let their hatred for Tom interfere with their wise judgement. Atticus, being the intelligent man he was, treated them with respect and never once lost control of himself....

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Uploaded by:   omega

Date:   05/24/2001

Category:   Literature

Length:   4 pages (901 words)

Views:   2040

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