Civil Rights And Civil Wrongs In To Kill A Mockingbird

1285 words - 6 pages

In Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, the author uses the small town of Maycomb, Alabama as a forum for different views on civil rights. On a smaller scale, Lee uses the relationship between Scout, her aunt, her father, and her housekeeper, to show how racism affects everything. The question of civil rights plays out not only through the trial of Tom Robinson, but also through the everyday interaction between the Finch family and their housekeeper Calpurnia. In the process of growing up Scout must chose where she fits into the whole racial scheme, and her relationship with her housekeeper plays a crucial part in deciding this.Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, focuses on the ...view middle of the document...

Brought into the Finch household to teach and act as a female role model for young Scout, Aunt Alexandra begins by demonstrating to Scout Calpurniaís inferior position. For Aunt Alexandra, Calpurnia will not do as a role model for Scout. Aunt Alexandra from the beginning shows Scout who posses the power. "Put my bag in the front bedroom, Calpurnia,' was the first thing Aunt Alexandra said(Lee 127)." The first time Aunt Alexandra appears in the novel, we instantly see the lack of respect she has for Calpurnia. Aunt Alexandra does not say "please" or "thank you," just a simple command forcing Cal into a subservience. Cal has symbolized strength and authority throughout Scoutís childhood, by acting as a mother figure in the Finch household. Scout has never seen Cal in such a low and submissive position.Calpurnia has established a respected place in the Finch family through years of dedicated service and through the love she has shown the Finch children. Aunt Alexandra senses the family's closeness to Cal, and fears the bond the family has with Cal. Any relationship with a black person that goes deeper than employer and employee causes scandal in Maycomb, and Aunt Alexandra fully understands gossip and scandals. Aunt Alexandra's attempt to get rid of Cal results from her understanding of the matter. Shortly after her arrival, Aunt Alexandra councils Atticus."And don't try and get around it. You've got to face it sooner or later and it might as well be tonight. We don't need her now(Lee 157)."Aunt Alexandra clearly wants Cal out of the family. Alexandra sees the respect and love that Scout feels towards Cal and fears Scout will learn to love what she considers "trash." Aunt Alexandraís label of ìtrashî does not only classify blacks, but any group or person that Aunt Alexandra considers to be lower on the social pyramid of Maycomb. Alexandra regards herself and the rest of the Finches as the royalty of Maycomb and she tries to make Scout understand this notion. Alexandra attempts to teach Scout how to be a Finch "lady," and if Scout wants to be Finch "lady" she can't care for and love people who are not Alexandra's "kind of folks(Lee 224)."The force pulling Scout in the opposite direction dwells in her father, Atticus. Atticus through both his actions and his words contradicts everything that Alexandra stands for. Atticus shows Scout how to act without forcing his part as a role model on her, as Aunt Alexandra does. Atticus leads by example,...

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