In To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee describes a time when discrimination was extremely common. In the fictional society of Maycomb County, we can see the primitive forms of discrimination emerge through definition of social classes due to wealth, background and association, as well as the predominant theme of racism towards African Americans. Although in present day Victoria, the subjects of discrimination encountered are different, society’s attitude and response to these flaws are much the same. In Victoria, the homeless problem as well as youth stereotypes present huge venues for discrimination within society. In addition to this, Aboriginals and oriental demographics are segregated by society due to colour and culture. Although civilized society has evolved between Maycomb and Victoria, presenting both communities with different challenges, it has not broken free of the engrained discriminatory behaviour within each of its foundations.
The discrimination faced by families such as the Cunningham’s, in To Kill A Mockingbird, was based upon society’s emphasis upon social class. As with the Cunningham’s, many families were hit very hard by the depression, and thus were not as wealthy as many other families in the community. Therefore, families such as these were offered little respect by other member’s of the Maycomb community based on their wealth or associations. Maycomb’s high society looked upon some of its neighbours as below themselves. Maycomb sees these people as a burden. According to inherent honoured codes within society, the importance and meaning of such fine breeding has been ignored, making these people less than those who come from “fine” families . In cases such as the Cunningham’s , members of the community who do not fall within the parameters of a “fine” family are objectified. An example of this can be seen when Walter Cunningham, a schoolmate of Scout’s, is invited over for dinner. ” He ain’t company Cal, he’s just a Cunningham-‘ Hush your mouth! Dont matter who they are, anybody sets foot in this house’s yo’ company, and don’t you let me catch remarkin’ on their ways like you was so high and mighty! Yo’ folks might be better’n the Cunningham’s but it don’t count for nothing’ the way you’re disgracing’ ’em” (p. 24) As Calpurnia points out to Scout that the Cunningham’s, despite society’s belittlement of such families, it does not give anyone the right to act superior. Although families such as these are not restricted from interaction from society, they are nonetheless victims of society’s prejudices. Similar to Maycomb, the growing homeless number of youth on the downtown streets of Victoria has created a very serious problem. In response to rising number of street people begging at corners, many residents have shown their distaste with the downtown core. Those living on the streets have been turned into inconsequential objects that are nonchantlantly passed by on the sidewalk. They have blended into society so they seem no more out of place than a cross walk or garbage can. Many Victoria residents have little respect or sympathy for the youth trying to survive in the jungle that has become downtown Victoria. This is apparent through the few piteous offerings that those begging for scraps manage to squeeze from the pockets of passer-bys. The homeless in Victoria are given little influence or respect by employers and the general public. Consequently, they are not given the opportunities or chance that they so desperately need. In both Victoria and Maycomb, there are those who show compassion towards these groups by opening homeless shelters, running food or other services, yet these efforts make little difference among the greater number of self absorbed persons that walk through the streets, ignoring to problems that can be so clearly seen. As with Walter Cunningham, when Ms. Caroline offers him money to by lunch on the first day of school, the other children in the class accept that Walter cannot afford a lunch and do not offer to share with him. In addition, Maycomb and Victoria deal with the problems created by social classes and poverty in much the same manner. They ignore it. Evidently, the design within which society is woven has changed in the ways in which discrimination based on wealth or acquaintance emerges within the communities, however, the way in which it is responded to within this template has little changed.
In addition to discrimination among social classes, Maycomb and Victoria also share an intolerance of those who associate with individuals who society does not deem acceptable. Dolphus Raymond, for example, was a man of character and morals. He was not a necessarily a poor man, yet he was removed from Maycomb society due to his taking a black wife. He did mind, however, society needed reason to accept that Dolphus Raymond chose to associate with the African American’s instead of what they considered a far superior standard of people. He drank out of a brown sack to give the impression that he was a drunk which consoled society for his desertion. He was ridiculed and moulded by society for his life in the outskirts of Maycomb in the destitute communities of the slaved black peoples into a mean, abusive, drunkard. All this was due to the fact that he saw absorbing himself in the black community as preferable to that of the gossip and discriminatory mannerisms of Maycomb proper. Similarly, treatment of those who associated with groups of individuals, specifically the blacks, were alienated by Maycomb society in much the same way as how certain youth stereotypes are looked upon by those in the Victoria community. Victoria treats those on the streets or those who look like or associate with certain groups in much the same way. If the average Victorian were to walk past a group of young teenagers, with earrings in unusual or numerous places, with greasy hair and black clothes, sitting outside of Chapters on Douglas street one would think them to be rebellious, experimental teens that ran away or got kicked out the their home. Even if one of these teenagers among them was just wearing normal jeans and tee-shirt, we would apply to them the same label or rebellious, experimental teen that we assumed fit the rest. Due to where these teens were and how they looked or who they were with, the average Victorian has shuffled to the far side of the sidewalk to avoid this labelled dangerous group.
Certain ethnicities in both Maycomb and Victoria are seen as unprincipled. Despite the different cultures which are targeted by discrimination, the response to these groups are very similar. The black’s in Maycomb are obvious subjects of racial discrimination. The degree to which society antagonizes this demographic demonstrates it’s deeply rooted prejudice. In contrast to the attitude towards lower class families, the African American’s are given absolutely no respect by the society of Maycomb. They are separated from all association with those outside of their outskirt communities. There is obvious segregation between the black’s and white’s of Maycomb. The African American’s of Maycomb are marginalized to the point where they no longer become a consideration among the decisions of Maycomb. As in the trial of Tom Robinson, the community knows that the word of the Ewells, considering the idea that they are “white trash”, will be taken over the word of an honourable black man. Similarly, Victoria, although considered a tolerant and civilized society, contains many imbedded prejudice’s that surface in its attitude towards certain cultural groups. For example, there is adherent discrimination against Aboriginals in the area. In order to preserve their culture they are separated from the rest of society and placed on reserves. Moreover, the large oriental demographic that is found in Victoria has challenges from society. Admittedly, the challenges that this demographic face may seem acceptable, it is only because of the promotion of tolerance that has been fostered over the years. One must just look down Fisgard to notice how the Asian community is separated. Unquestionably, Chinatown can be seen as a tribute to Asian culture through an attempt to preserve it from assimilation by western society, some, because of its high oriental concentration, deliberately avoid that area of Victoria. Lack of respect for these groups can be attributed to our encouragement of the distinction between traditional Victoria western culture and assimilation of the Aboriginal and Asian culture.
Despite the superficial difference between the forms in which discrimination appears within Maycomb and Victoria, there are more pertinent similarities in societies response to specific problems in both these communities. The attitude towards lower class families in Maycomb such as the Cunningham’s and those who associate with individuals who society sees as inadequate such as Dolphus Raymond, are comparatively similar to that of Victoria and its response to the growing homeless problem or disgruntled youth. Assuredly, the discrimination towards both the African American’s in Maycomb and the Aboriginals in Victoria emphasize similar characteristics. Thus, it can be concluded that although the problems faced by Maycomb have evolved into the problems we have today, the prejudice rooted with societies foundation and sown into human behaviour influences our response to groups which we appear to have the ability to control.