In Black Like Me, author John Howard Griffin’s uses his real life account of his experience of temporarily transforming himself into a black man for six long and intense weeks to experience black oppression first hand. In To Kill a Mockingbird, author Harper Lee uses the point of view of Scout Finch, to learn about her father Atticus Finch, an attorney who hopelessly strives to prove the innocence of a black man that was unjustly accused of rape in the southern United States in the 1930s. Black Like Me and To Kill a Mockingbird shows that prejudice originates from ignorance or a person’s unwillingness to understand others. Both Novels present the idea that the only way to bring equality and empathy in society is through courage, knowledge and compassion.
In Black Like Me John Griffin displayed courage throughout the novel; fear waited for him everywhere he went. This took a lot of courage to face the same fears Griffin encountered. Griffin also battled a lot of prejudice during his trips in the south of the United States. He took abuse that was so unbearable that no one should ever be experienced by anyone. By being courageous he, took the pain and suffering while being away from his family just to take a step towards equality for all. An example can be when a group of white men calling him names based on the colour of his skin;
A car full of white men and boys sped past. They yelled obscenities at me.
A Satsuma flew past my head and broke against a building.
The street was loud and raw, with tension as thick as fog. I felt the
insane terror of it […] another car roared down
the street, and the street was suddenly deserted of Negroes (Griffin 67).
Courage is shown in this quote because John had to keep calm and not let anyone know that he was afraid of the group of men in the car. If he showed his emotions, Griffin would become vulnerable to getting beaten or killed by these men and he would not be able to continue his journey for equality. This was especially true in terms of his courage. For Griffin, finding equality for all was a main priority. Without courage Griffin could not show how empathy and equality are an important step to improving society’s perspective on prejudice.
Harper Lee introduced the concept of moral courage through, Mrs. Dubose, a morphine addict who wished to get rid of morphine before dying and Atticus Finch, the principled lawyer who went against the prejudiced society of Maycomb to protect a black man, Tom Robinson. Mrs. Dubose exemplified moral courage; as she neglected her own personal suffering to follow her own principles and values by trying to die without morphine. Atticus sees this and gives the children insight of what courage is:
Courage is not a man with a gun with his hand.