Atticus's belief in treating and respecting everyone as an individual is contrasted in To Kill a Mockingbird with a number of other worldviews. These other visions are all quite different from each other—they are religious, racist, classist—but they all share one thing in common: they treat people as groups, demand conformity, and give no respect or credit to individuals. In other words, they are all forms of prejudice, which is a preconceived notion about a person based on the groups to which that person belongs. Over and over again, To Kill a Mockingbird reveals prejudice not just as closed-minded and dangerous, but also as ridiculous.
The most obvious form of prejudice in the novel is racism, which causes otherwise upstanding white citizens of Maycomb to accept the testimony of an obviously corrupt white man over the evidence supporting the testimony from a black man. Yet prejudice is also visible in the racially condescending Mrs. Grace Merriweather; in Aunt Alexandra's and many other character's belief in the importance of social class; in the gender stereotypes that people try to force on Scout; and even in the way the town views Boo Radley as a monster because he acts differently from everyone else.
Prejudice Quotes in To Kill a Mockingbird
"He ain't company, Cal, he's just a Cunningham-"
"Hush your mouth! Don't matter who they are, anybody sets foot in this house's yo' comp'ny, and don't you let me catch you remarkin' on their ways like you was so high and mighty!
"For a number of reasons," said Atticus. "The main one is, if I didn't I couldn't hold up my head in town, I couldn't represent this county in the legislature, I couldn't even tell you or Jem not to do something again."
"Atticus, are we going to win it?"
"Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win," Atticus said.
"Well, most folks seem to think they're right and you're wrong...."
… When I looked down the pathway again, Lula was gone. In her place was a solid mass of colored people.
One of them stepped from the crowd. It was Zeebo, the garbage collector. "Mister Jem," he said, "we're mighty glad to have you all here. Don't pay no 'tention to Lula, she's contentious because Reverend Sykes threatened to church her. She's a troublemaker from way back, got fancy ideas an' haughty ways—we're mighty glad to have you all."
"Uncle Jack Finch says we really don't know. He says as far as he can trace back the Finches we ain't, but for all he knows we mighta come straight out of Ethiopia durin' the Old Testament."
"Well if we came out durin' the Old Testament it's too long ago to matter."
"That's what I thought," said Jem, "but around here once you have a drop of Negro blood, that makes you all black."
"Like I says before, it weren't safe for any nigger to be in a—fix like that."
"But you weren't in a fix—you testified that you were resisting Miss Ewell. Were you so scared that she'd hurt you, you ran, a big buck like you?"
"No suh, I's scared I'd be in court, just like I am now."
"Scared of arrest, scared you'd have to face up to what you did?"
"No suh, scared I'd hafta face up to what I didn't do."
Mrs. Merriweather's large brown eyes always filled with tears when she considered the oppressed. "Living in that jungle with nobody but J. Grimes Everett," she said. "Not a white person'll go near 'em but that saintly J. Grimes Everett."