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Evolutionary Attitudes

Essay by   •  December 31, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,595 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,212 Views

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In To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee describes a time when discrimination was extremely common. In the fictional society of Maycomb County, we can see the primitive forms of discrimination emerge through definition of social classes due to wealth, background and association, as well as the predominant theme of racism towards African Americans. Although in present day Victoria, the subjects of discrimination encountered are different, society's attitude and response to these flaws are much the same. In Victoria, the homeless problem as well as youth stereotypes present huge venues for discrimination within society. In addition to this, Aboriginals and oriental demographics are segregated by society due to colour and culture. Although civilized society has evolved between Maycomb and Victoria, presenting both communities with different challenges, it has not broken free of the engrained discriminatory behaviour within each of its foundations.

The discrimination faced by families such as the Cunningham's, in To Kill A Mockingbird, was based upon society's emphasis upon social class. As with the Cunningham's, many families were hit very hard by the depression, and thus were not as wealthy as many other families in the community. Therefore, families such as these were offered little respect by other member's of the Maycomb community based on their wealth or associations. Maycomb's high society looked upon some of its neighbours as below themselves. Maycomb sees these people as a burden. According to inherent honoured codes within society, the importance and meaning of such fine breeding has been ignored, making these people less than those who come from "fine" families . In cases such as the Cunningham's , members of the community who do not fall within the parameters of a "fine" family are objectified. An example of this can be seen when Walter Cunningham, a schoolmate of Scout's, is invited over for dinner. " 'He ain't company Cal, he's just a Cunningham-' 'Hush your mouth! Don't matter who they are, anybody sets foot in this house's yo' company, and don't you let me catch remarkin' on their ways like you was so high and mighty! Yo' folks might be better'n the Cunningham's but it don't count for nothing' the way you're disgracing' 'em..." (p. 24) As Calpurnia points out to Scout that the Cunningham's, despite society's belittlement of such families, it does not give anyone the right to act superior. Although families such as these are not restricted from interaction from society, they are nonetheless victims of society's prejudices. Similar to Maycomb, the growing homeless number of youth on the downtown streets of Victoria has created a very serious problem. In response to rising number of street people begging at corners, many residents have shown their distaste with the downtown core. Those living on the streets have been turned into inconsequential objects that are nonchantlantly passed by on the sidewalk. They have blended into society so they seem no more out of place than a cross walk or garbage can. Many Victoria residents have little respect or sympathy for the youth trying to survive in the jungle that has become downtown Victoria. This is apparent through the few piteous offerings that those begging for scraps manage to squeeze from the pockets of passer-bys. The homeless in Victoria are given little influence or respect by employers and the general public. Consequently, they are not given the opportunities or chance that they so desperately need. In both Victoria and Maycomb, there are those who show compassion towards these groups by opening homeless shelters, running food or other services, yet these efforts make little difference among the greater number of self absorbed persons that walk through the streets, ignoring to problems that can be so clearly seen. As with Walter Cunningham, when Ms. Caroline offers him money to by lunch on the first day of school, the other children in the class accept that Walter cannot afford a lunch and do not offer to share with him. In addition, Maycomb and Victoria deal with the problems created by social classes and poverty in much the same manner. They ignore it. Evidently, the design within which society is woven has changed in the ways in which discrimination based on wealth or acquaintance emerges within the communities, however, the way in which it is responded to within this template has little changed.

In addition to discrimination among social classes, Maycomb and Victoria also share an intolerance of those who associate with individuals who society does not deem acceptable. Dolphus Raymond, for example, was a man of character and morals. He was not a necessarily a poor man, yet he was removed from Maycomb society due to his taking a black wife. He did mind, however, society needed reason to accept that Dolphus Raymond chose to associate with the African American's instead of what they considered a far superior standard of people. He drank out of a brown sack to give the impression that he was a drunk which consoled society for his desertion. He was ridiculed and moulded by society for his life in the outskirts of Maycomb in the destitute communities of the slaved black peoples into a mean, abusive, drunkard. All this was due to the fact that he saw absorbing himself in the black community as preferable to that of the gossip and discriminatory mannerisms of Maycomb proper. Similarly, treatment of those who associated with groups of individuals, specifically the blacks, were alienated by Maycomb society in much the same way as how certain youth stereotypes are looked upon by those in the Victoria community. Victoria treats those

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