Prejudice and Friedship
English and Literature
Submitted By jmallea
Prejudice vs. Friendship as Discussed in
“To Kill A Mockingbird” and “The Boy In The Striped Pajamas”
According to Harper’s magazine modern version, “literary means not only what is written but what is voiced, what is expressed, what is invented, in whatever form”. In contrast, literature has always been considered to be “written works considered of lasting artistic merit” or most commonly used to refer to works of the “creative imagination, including works of poetry, drama, fiction, and nonfiction”. Literature is considered by many, an essential part of life, which it can be in many senses. One’s thought process or knowledge may grow and evolve through the journey taken by reading literature. Literature is a major part of education. It may seem trivial, but in reality it helps build new perspective and introduce one to new world experiences. Literature is a prominent part of any race, religion, language or people and it represents culture and tradition.
Prejudice and discrimination are not new subjects, but nevertheless it does not mean it should not be discussed. This has been an issue for as far back as history has documented between different races or ethnicities. Though racism has mostly ceased, it still reigns around the world. The theme in this essay is friendship, regardless of race or rumors that have been told about Boo Radley in “To Kill A Mockingbird” and Shmuel in “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” friendship overcomes prejudice by the innocence of a child.
Writing about this topic sensitive, because there have been many gruesome issues with prejudice and discrimination through the years, but it is one’s personal duty to voice her/his perspective and thoughts.
“To Kill A Mockingbird”, by Harper Lee expounds a message of prejudice between African Americans and Caucasians living in the south in the 1930’s when a black man is sentenced to death for a murder he did not commit by an all-white jury. Ironically, the other piece of literature is a fictional tale called “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”, by John Boyne about a Jewish boy in a concentration camp and the son of a Nazi commander who become friends. These two pieces of literature have a theme of prejudice that is overcome by friendship in common, yet each author portrays it in a different perspective. In comparison, both stories involve different races whom are supposed to hate each other according to society, yet discrimination is stowed away for a friendship. Simply stated prejudice, discrimination, and racism are cruel characteristics to bear. Harper Lee in “To Kill A Mockingbird” and John Bayne in “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” each show that children’s innocence and naive minds are more capable of discerning the truth as opposed to adults who would rather judge a person. In “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, the author tells talks about two prejudice conflicts. Atticus Finn is a lawyer in Macomb city who tries to exclude discrimination in both his personal and professional life. He first realizes his disgust toward criminal law when he defends to black men who try to plead not guilty to second degree murder, but are instead tried and found guilty for first degree murder by an all-white jury. Lee then introduces the audience to Scout and Jem,
Atticus Finch’s children and Dill, their friend who seem curious about Boo Radley. The Radley family are known for being introverts and it is rumored that Boo is mentally insane because he stabbed his father with a pair of scissors, but to keep him “away from the negroes” in jail Mr. Radley decides its best to keep him in the courthouse basement. One day Scout and Jem are playing the front yard and notice two pieces of gum in a knothole in their oak tree. At the end of the school year they also find some “good luck pennies” and they aren’t sure if it’s a gift or someone’s hidden location, but they decide to take them anyhow. That summer, Dill and Scout were playing with a tire and it accidentally rolled into Boo’s yard. Scout, naturally scared from the stories he had heard ran inside. Dill then proposes they begin a new game starring the Radley family, where they each play a member of the Radley family and reenact stories that they’ve heard about them. Atticus then catches them playing the game, where they deny playing it, but Atticus’ stern tone forces them to stop. The next day, Jem and Dill hatch a plan to leave a note for Boo in the Radley's window, using a fishing line. The note will ask him to come out sometimes and tell them what he's doing inside, and that they won't hurt him and will buy him ice cream. Dill says he wants Boo to come out and sit with them for a while, as it might make the man feel better. Dill and Scout keep watch in case anyone comes along, and Jem tries to deliver the note with the fishing pole, but finds that it's harder to maneuver than he expected. Lee is showing her audience that regardless of the stories they children had heard, they wanted to meet Boo and become friends with him. Yes, they were partially curious as to what he looked like considering they’d heard he was a giant with yellow teeth, but nevertheless the children set aside all prejudice and decided to accept Boo for who he truly was. The childish perspective, however easily misled, is also shown in this chapter to probe closer toward truth than the adults are
Mallea 4 capable of. Adults, more likely than children, judge a person without knowing whom they really are. Clearly, the children are too naive and are not able to differentiate between what they have been told about Boo and what is really true, but unlike the adults they chose to find out the truth rather than believe the rumors about Boo and discriminate him.
Similarly, in “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”, John Bayne introduces a young boy who is the son of a Nazi commander that finds himself becoming friends with the “boy in striped pajamas”, a Jew. His curiosity leads him through a hole in the back of a shed in his mother’s garden. He is told not to go beyond the fence, but naturally he becomes curious and ventures through the woods where he finds himself separated by a fence and on the other side is a young boy. One night, Bruno’s (the German boy) father has a dinner guest, which happens to be “the Fuhrer” himself, Adolf Hitler and Bruno instantly dislikes him. Bruno and his sister are both homeschooled and their teacher corrupts their mind into thinking that Jew are “worthless” and that the Germans are a far more worthy race. Bruno is confused by this, because he thought everyone was supposed to be treated as equals and does not understand why they are inferior. As he ventures into the woods again, he finds himself talking with Shmuel the Jewish boy. Shmuel tells him he cannot find his father and Bruno being a nice, yet naïve child trades in his clothes for “striped pajamas” to help Shmuel locate his father. An alarm begins to resonate throughout the camp and all the men are grouped like cattle into a gas chamber where the two boys meet their death. “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” explores the beauty of a child’s innocence in a time of
Mallea 5 war, the common desire everyone has for friendship, and the “fences” that one must choose whether or not to break down. Each story