Prejudice Kills The Mockingbird Ethan Chang

To Kill A Mockingbird

In To Kill A Mockingbird, readers are exposed to a variety of situations in which prejudice, hatred and injustice harms people permanently. Examples of this found in the book can be seen in the trial of Tom Robinson or the attempted murder of Scout and Jem committed by Robert Ewell. In this text the case of Emmett Till as well as the Quebec Mosque Shooting will be compared and analyzed to the book, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. In To Kill A Mockingbird, the case of Emmett Till and the Quebec Mosque Shooting, hatred and prejudice is shown to harm the innocent causing injustices to happen.

Newspaper clippings of emmett till

Hatred, prejudice and injustice runs deep in the historic case of Emmett Till much like the case of Tom Robinson within To Kill A Mockingbird, both of these cases contain an unjust trial with an all white jury and a dead African american who never truly got the justice he deserved. In To Kill A Mockingbird Tom Robinson had been accused of raping Mayella Ewell by Robert Ewell and in the trial while the defendant’s lawyer Atticus Finch had provided conclusive evidence that Tom had not raped and that Robert Ewell was the prime suspect of the one who abused Mayella. However with an all white jury, Tom Robinson gets the death sentence and is killed when he tried to escape from a few days later with the guards firing around 18 shots at him. The reason for Tom’s conviction and senseless death is made apparent to Scout, “Atticus had used every tool available to freeman to save Tom Robinson, but in the secret courts of men’s hearts Atticus had no case. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed.”(Lee 245). Despite Scouts age being only in 3rd grade she was able to comprehend the injustice of this case, while Atticus had done his absolute best to free Tom Robinson, simply due to Tom’s race and the prejudice of the all white jury, Tom was condemned to a doomed fate from the very moment Mayella screamed, a life was lost due to the jury’s prejudice and unwillingness to let go of the pride despite the evidence hanging right in front of their faces. This prejudice killed Tom Robinson and allowed the injustice of Robert Ewell’s action to go free with only Atticus to thank for showing the truth and destroy Ewell’s credibility to the town of Maycomb. This is very much similar to Emmett Till, a boy from Chicago who was kidnapped by 2 white men in august 1955 by Roy Bryant and J.W Milam after Till was falsely accused of flirting with Carolyn Bryant, Roy Bryant’s wife. Till was brutally beaten, tortured and later killed, with his body being dumped into the river, his body was found three days later. In the same fashion as Tom Robinson’s trial, “An all white male jury acquitted the defendants who later confessed to the killing in a raw, remorseful interview with Look magazine. One said they only intended to beat the teen but decided to kill him when he showed no fear and refused to grovel.” (Latson 1). The same prejudice in the jury had allowed the taking of an innocent life and allowed the once who did such an injustice to get away again. They even confessed to doing this heinous deed to the public in an interview after, this injustice had gotten away and even though the FBI had reopened the case and proved the 2 men guilty, they were already long dead. The prejudice in the jury had allowed the hatred and prejudice of 2 men to take an innocent life to get away simply because of the fact that Emmett had been an African American. This prejudice has shown up in both fiction and history and cannot be disregarded to let it allow more injustice to happen.

More newspaper clippings of Emmett and summary video from time about Emmett
Pictures: Photo of Emmett Till, Newspaper of the result of the trial of Emmett, Scene from To Kill A Mockingbird with the trial of Tom Robinson

Sadly this prejudice and hatred isn’t a thing of the past by now, while we have gotten better and improved rights for both women and African Americans. However we now see a new type of discrimination, this time it’s a discrimination of religion, Muslims to be exact. Tensions have been rising with the western world as terrorist attacks have been happening all around the world and people look to Muslims to blame. This had led to some extreme discrimination of them, such as the vetting of refugees from Islamic countries set by the president. In To Kill A Mockingbird the idea of innocence and why we shouldn’t hurt them based on prejudice can also be seen in the Quebec Mosque Shooting. In To Kill A Mockingbird Atticus and Maudie tells Jem as well as Scout “Mockingbirds don’t Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird ” (Lee 99). Maudie and Atticus wants to teach the children about not harming animals who just do good (in this case Mockingbirds), harming them based on the prejudice thinking all animal are the same. The same can be said with the Quebec Mosque Shooting, whereas the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said “This was a group of innocents targeted for practising their faith….Make no mistake this was a terrorist attack” (Freeman 1). However this terrorist attack was on innocent Muslims by a white male filled with prejudice against Muslims after Canada announced to accept refugees that the Trump Muslim ban excludes. These Muslims like the Mockingbirds were innocent and only doing good, practicing their faith in peace, however they were killed by a man who filled with prejudice against them killed them in cold blood. The same mosque received a bloody pig's head on their doorsteps with a card saying “Bon Appetite” during Ramadan, a Muslim religious holiday. While he has received a sentence from the government, it is still an injustice to see lives lost due to someone’s prejudice against them. This prejudice once again has harmed and damaged people’s lives causing a great injustice as families mourn for people that can never come back all because someone felt that a group of people practicing a religion different to them is doing something wrong.

A vigil held in montreal soon after the shooting as people pray for the lives lost
Pictures: News headlines of the shooting, The pigs head left on the doorstep of the same Mosque previously before and the mockingbird quote from To Kill A Mockingbird.

In the end, time still goes on, wounds heal with time and people rise against injustice to fight it, ensuring that later generation will not have to fear against discrimination like some do now. Emmett Till died at the hands of a great injustice, fueling the civil rights movements as Rosa Parks refuses to give up a seat for a white man remembering the injustice that befell on Emmett. People across the world mourn for the lives that were lost in the mosque shooting and Canada continues to stands as a country of tolerance for all freedoms, pushing forward to ensure that Canada remains that way. Finally we have a book that talks about themes relating to a topic that has happened in the past and relates to a tragedy that has yet to happen, what to take from this book layered this deep with themes? Well the only way to do that is to ask yourselves, how do we ensure that prejudice doesn’t overwhelm you or your society and harm the innocents or create anymore injustice in the future. Ensuring this means that the innocents can stay innocent, ensuring this means that mockingbirds can fly strong and free, singing happy songs for the all the people to hear.

Mockingbird flying strong and free able to sing good songs for everyone to hear
Lee, Harper. To Kill A Mockingbird. New York: Grand Central, 1982. Print.
Latson, Jennifer. "How Emmett Till's Murder Changed the World 60 Years Ago." Time. Time, 28 Aug. 2015. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.
Freeman, Alan, Lindsey Bever, and Derek Hawkins. "Suspect in Deadly Canadian Mosque Shooting Charged with Six Counts of Murder." The Washington Post. WP Company, 30 Jan. 2017. Web. 27 Mar. 2017.
Created By
Ethan Chang


Created with images by Tobyotter - "Mockingbird" • B. W. Townsend - "Candlelight vigil 6" • Andy Morffew - "Mockingbird"

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.