Prejudice and Discrimination - Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird", "Philadelphia" and Bob Dylan's "Hurricane"

Essay by shelley686High School, 12th grade May 2006

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Synthesis Task

Response Answer

Prejudice is a preconceived bias without evidence. Discrimination is acting upon this prejudice. The three texts studied were: "To Kill a Mockingbird", written by Harper Lee, "Philadelphia", directed by Jonathon Demme and "Hurricane", sung by Bob Dylan. Although all of these texts have different mediums of production - text, film and song - they all convey the concept of prejudice and discrimination through narrative, cinematic and poetic techniques, respectively.

"To Kill a Mockingbird" was written in the 1960's during an economic depression. The novel tells a story of how a black man is wrongfully accused of raping a white girl. Harper Lee explores and challenges the idea of prejudice and discrimination using many narrative techniques and devices including: characterisation, setting and method of narration.

The characterisation is extremely effective and gives the story credibility. For example: "We never put back into the tree what we got out of it: we had given him (Boo) nothing and it made me sad."

In this particular quote, we see that Scout is growing and maturing, and so we, as readers, develop with her. This effective use of characterisation reveals Scout's purity and innocence.

Another invaluable narrative technique is the setting. The story is set in the 1930, where class distinction was over- exaggerated and respected. Harper Lee does not just create a physical setting by setting the story in Maycomb county Alabama, but there are also political, social and economic settings.

The political setting is very controversial. Inevitably, whites are the ultimate power and authority. The economic depression is the fundamental setting of the story. Everyone is struggling financially and most resort to farming as their source of income. Finally, the most prominent setting is the social setting. Right from the beginning, the class distinction...