To Kill a Mockingbird reveals the damaging impact of deeply entrenched values on every citizen where even the best intentions are not always enough to overcome the extreme prejudicial views that underlie everyday life in Maycomb. Yet, within the tragic occurrences of racial and social discrimination there exists a glimmer of hope that what has been damaged can equally be repaired.
Social prejudice of the Maycomb is part of the traditional fabric of the ‘tired old town’, accepted without question and demonstrated as potent forces lying beneath the surface of polite society. In institutions such as schools, the in built prejudice towards the lower classes is evidenced when Miss Caroline tries to loan Walter Cunningham a ‘quarter’ to buy his lunch, unaware of the unspoken acceptance that the ‘Cunninghams never took anything they can’t pay back’ revealing how the poor are treated differently, despite the good intentions of the naïve Miss Caroline. Yet, from Scout’s point of view, there is nothing extraordinary about Walter Cunningham. Her innocence diminishes any judgement in what she describes. Furthermore, as the town is established on a social ladder, those of a lower status such as the Ewells are considered inferior, villains, the ‘white trash’ element of Maycomb county. Likewise, those who reject the social norms of Maycomb are perceived to be suspicious. When the Radleys behaved in a manner considered ‘alien’, simply because they ‘kept to themselves’, they are exposed to perceptions by a prejudiced community. Regarded as a ‘malevolent phantom’, Boo Radley is demonised by the township exemplifying the dangerous and damaging suspicions that overwhelm the attitudes held by citizens of Maycomb as told by Scout.
Where social prejudice dominates the attitudes of the town folk, it is the racially prejudiced views toward the blacks that segregates and divides Maycomb in a hateful and destructive discrimination where even Scout is forced to see the hate that lies beneath the surface. When Tom Robinson is accused of raping Mayella Ewell, the inbuilt