In ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, racial prejudice can be defined as the pre-conceived opinion about a person or a people that is not based on a reason or an actual experience. Racial prejudice involves ideas of some being superior over others just because they have different hereditary factors. Throughout the novel, racial prejudice is seen as an insidious moral and social disease that greatly affects a wide variety of people from all social ranks. The text is set in Maycomb, Alabama in the 1960’s during the peak point of racial prejudice. It was intensified in the deep-south where equality movements had not yet started and where white people were above black people and that was that. There was simply no room for discussion. It is because of this, that the racial prejudice seen in the novel is tremendously harsh and cruel. This makes the theme all the more important because the extent of the prejudice is not an experience that the readers will have been subjected to and thus quite a reality shock. Many people in modern day society are unaware of the extent that racial prejudice went to in the time period that the novel is set in and therefore the theme is prominent in the novel due to its historical teachings and the awareness it brings. “Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don’t pretend to understand.” Atticus’s words pinpoint to the viewer how the racial prejudice system works within Maycomb. He is referring to the fact that a person is ordinary and decent, someone that doesn’t seem the slightest bit violent or cruel, until they are involved with someone of a different colour. In the setting of the text, people became entirely different people when black people were involved, dignity no longer mattered, morals no longer mattered, they were just dead set on elucidating the difference between white and black people, even if it required controversial methods such as violence.
In this compelling and rousing novel, the theme of racial prejudice is greatly emphasized and can be seen in all aspects of society. Throughout the text, this theme of racial prejudice can be considered memorable due to how extremely people in Maycomb’s’ lives are affected. For example, Dolphus Raymond, a decent man who chose to look past the colour of one’s skin and see the true person. Mr Raymond is however forced to disguise his association with coloured people by acting like a simple drunkard. This has nothing to do with his personal opinion about them, it is merely to satisfy the community and allow them an explanation as to why he is so comfortable around the black people. “When I come to town, [...] if I weave a little and drink out of this sack, folks can say Dolphus Raymond’s in the clutches of whiskey – that’s why he won’t change his ways. He can’t help himself, that’s why he lives the way he does”. Mr Raymond’s own words depict the racial prejudice in the town; he is very aware of what the white community believe in and understands how their racist minds