Discuss the Representation of Marginalized Groups in to Kill a Mockingbird

Published: 2021-09-23 16:55:10
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Throughout the novel, we see that the characters are divided into certain distinct groups, which represent the major groups in general society. We also see the social divide between these groups, and while some groups are well represented in society, others are marginalised (i. e. they have barley or no social standing in society). The first example of these groups is the Ewells. The Ewells represent the poor white society in our community. At the start of the novel, our first impression of the Ewells is a negative one.
We are described the unhygienic nature of the Ewells when a “cootie” erupts out of Burris Ewell’s hair. Our impression of the Ewells is worsened when we learn that the Ewell’s only arrive for one day of the school, and stay home for the rest of the year hence receiving no education. And when the teacher tries to discipline him, he calls her a “snot-nosed slut”. When Scout tells Atticus of her day in school, we are given more detailed information of their way of life. Atticus calls them “the disgrace of Maycomb for three generations”.
We are also told that because of their animalistic nature, the law is bent on certain occasions. Such as going to school only for a day and hunting out of season. The only reason Mr. Ewell, the father, is allowed to hunt out of season is because if he was forbidden to do so, his children would starve. This characterization of the Ewell family serves to make us look at the Ewells in a disgusted and negative manner. In the book we are given a good description of the Ewell’s residence during Tom Robinson’s trial. Harper Lee makes use of strong language to describe the home.
The description of the Ewell house is an insight into the lives of the Ewells. We see how cruel the father is and the kind of life he has forced his daughter Mayella to live. I feel the reason Lee uses vivid detail in the account of the Ewell house is because the best way to understand the Ewells is to understand their way of life. Lee states that “the cabin’s plank walls were supplemented with sheets of corrugated iron, its general shape suggested it’s original design: square, with four tiny rooms opening onto a shotgun hall, the cabin rested uneasily upon four irregular lumps of limestone.
Its windows were merely open spaces in the walls, which in the summer were covered with greasy strips of cheese cloth to keep out the varmints that feasted on Maycomb’s refuse. ” This description of the iron and the shape of house make the house seem more like a cabin and it tells us a little bit about the Ewells. Through this example we deduce that the Ewells care very little if not at all about the appearance of their home and its appearance.
Lee also adds “What passed for a fence was bits of tree limbs, broomsticks and tool shafts, all tipped with rusty hammer heads, shovels, axes and grubbing hoes, held on with pieces of barbed wire. ” This description of the raggedy fence makes us think that the fence is built from items you would find in a dump which other people have thrown away. All these descriptions make it obvious that Lee wants us to respond in a very negative manner towards the Ewells and their way of life.
I feel that the Ewells represent the dregs of society which were somehow not stripped from existence. But, in contrast to the Ewells, we see the poor black “settlement”. The cabins owned by the poor blacks were “neat and snug with pale blue smoke rising from the chimneys and doorways glowing amber from the fries inside. There were delicious smells about: chicken, bacon frying crisp as twilight air. Jem and I detected squirrel cooking, but it took a real country man like Atticus to identify possum and rabbit, aromas that vanished when we rode back past the Ewell residence.
Lee makes strong use of language by using descriptive words like “neat” and “snug” which represent the contrast between the houses of the Ewells and the poor black community. Through this we see that while the members of the black community lived in poverty like the Ewells, they still kept their homes clean and their children fed. I feel the poor black community in the text represents the poor and unfortunate groups in our communities. Once you fully analyze the text, you begin to realize that many different groups of our current society are represented in the text.

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