The Neon Bible

Life in a Small Town 12th Grade

Small towns are often considered a safe place to grow up. Many who are born into these small towns never leave, perhaps because they are too frightened to leave all that they have ever known. These towns, however, are not without their problems. Rural small towns, especially in the South, carry a stigma of being prejudice against those who are different, which can still unfortunately be true to this day. In John Kennedy Toole’s first novel, The Neon Bible, the negative stigma associated with living in a small town is explored. Toole, being a southern man himself, was able to display an accurate adolescent’s view of a rural Southern town in the 1930’s. A major theme in Toole’s novel is the prejudice that can occur in a small town and he uses his characters to present his commentary on the topic.

The first example of Toole’s take on small town judgment is the town’s reaction to Aunt Mae. Her flashy clothes and exposure of skin attract dirty looks and judgment from the woman as well as mockery from the men. David, the protagonist and Mae’s nephew, recalls a time when Aunt Mae first came to live with them. He remembers, “When I was four Mother gave a party for some of the wives of the factory workers, and Aunt Mae came into the...

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