Think about the last time you judged someone before getting to know them; perhaps a peer at school. These judgments could be about the simplest things, their appearance, behavior, rumors, etc., normally these judgments are proven wrong with the chance of getting to know someone. This “quick-to-judge” behavior is known as prejudice, prejudice never tends to aim towards the good in people and this is shown throughout To Kill A Mockingbird. In the novel, Harper Lee illustrates the theme of prejudice as a reason to look from another person’s view to truly understand them. This theme is brought out through the characters Tom Robinson, Dolphus Raymond, and Boo Radley.
During Tom Robinson’s trial, a man who is accused of sexual assault towards Mayella Ewell; the daughter of Bob Ewell; faces bold assumptions and accusations where the people of Maycomb blame his behavior on his race. The trial expresses racism in its true form towards an innocent man. Whilst the trial was in session, Dill and Scout had left the courtroom because Dill had gotten frustrated with the treatment and unfairness towards Tom and Scout says “Well, Dill, after all, he’s just a negro,” (Lee 199). Scout, a young naive girl, illustrates that prejudice behavior, she’s grown up in a County where different races are looked at differently so judging someone by first glance doesn’t seem to impact her. As for those who have gotten to know Tom, such as his boss, have gotten to learn what kind of person Tom is, not some criminal. While Tom was being questioned, Mr. Link Dease stood up from the crowd and said, “I just want a whole lot of you to know one thing right now. That boy’s worked for me eight years an’ I ain’t had a speck o’trouble outa him. Not a speck.” (Lee 195 ). Judge Taylor reacted fiercely and seem embarrassed as if he knew his judgments were wrong. Judging someone is only acceptable when you truly look from their views and get the time to know them, such as the relationship Mr. Link Dease had with Tom. Judgments based on a first glance shouldn’t depend on or be impacted by someone’s race or appearance.
In the novel, not just the blacks face prejudice judgments, whites do as well. A citizen known as Dolpus Raymond is married to a black woman and deals with false judgment for him and his family. You can imagine how others would look at someone who chose to make those decisions in a racist era. Dolphus is well aware of the views coming from other people so he spared himself by giving others an easy excuse to lessen the judgments. He carries around a paper bag with a bottle in it that many would think is some sort of alcohol but really, he drinks coke from the bag. Raymond did this so to others, he is just some drunk alcoholic whose life is out of hand, giving him an easy excuse to be married to someone black. Outside of the trial while Dill was heated around Scout, Dolphus offered Dill a sip out of his bag and sparked a conversation between the three individuals. Dolphus told the children, “I try to give ‘em a reason, you see. It helps folks if they can latch onto a reason. When I come to town, which is seldom, 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.” (Lee 200). That secret from Dolphus shocked the children because he had told them one of his darkest secrets. Scout asked why and he said, “Because you’re children and you can understand it…” (Lee 201). He seemed to have a purpose with speaking out about why he does things the way he does and telling children that young could do them good in the future. Those who take the time to talk to Dolphus, such as Dill and Scout will have learned that he loves his wife and wouldn’t want things any other way but feels the need to ease his family and himself by appearing as a drunk man to take the heat of judgment off of him and his loved ones. An idea like that goes to show that Harper Lee was illustrating what people will do just to get away from the judgments of others.
Another character who hides at the sight of judgment is a man who lives near the Finch family named Arthur “Boo” Radley. Rumors go around about this man, he rarely ever would leave his house, leaving people to only judge him by what they’ve heard and the mystery that comes about him. Most of those in Maycomb thought of Boo as a local legend because rarely anyone had seen him, the children believed him to be a malevolent phantom. Jem Finch described Boo as:
Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that’s why his hands were bloodstained–if you ate an animal raw, you could never wash the blood off. There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time. (Lee 13)
The children described this man as some flesh-eating monster but this thought later disappeared with a chain of mysterious events such as the magically sewn breeches, mysterious gifts from the tree, and Boo’s heroic act, this judgment was removed. Towards the end of the novel, Mayella’s father Bob Ewell attempted to harm the Finch children as an attempt to get back at Atticus for the trial but those efforts failed with the heroic behavior of Boo Radley. After this event had occurred, Finches and a few others were gathered at their home with Mr. Tate. Scout had made very detailed observation toward the man leaning against the wall, she then said “Hey, Boo.” (Lee 270). She realized her life was saved by the one man she believed to be a horrid monster. After those events, the children had never looked at Boo Radley as some sort of malevolent phantom but rather as a man who is humble and prefers to remain out of sight of the harsh judgments and ongoings of the county.
Harper Lee used all of these individuals to illustrate the importance of our judgments on others. Through Dolphus Raymond, someone who found a way around prejudice, to Tom Robinson, a man who society got the best of, and to Boo Radley, someone who was seen as a monster but was the complete opposite. To Kill a Mockingbird taught us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes to show us those first glance judgments aren’t all that is behind a person.