Racial Intolerance As Demonstrated In Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird"

1029 words - 4 pages

Intolerance based upon race and upon a person's age have been an enduring element of society since the beginning of the 20th century. In Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird", the community of Maycomb demonstrates racial and age based intolerance throughout the novel. The most prevalent form of discrimination in Maycomb is white intolerance against blacks. Interestingly, blacks discriminating against whites is another form of intolerance demonstrated throughout the novel. In Maycomb, children as seen very much as subordinates to their parents, which in turn manufactures an intolerance from adults to children if they do not conform to social standards.In Maycomb, whites are superior to blacks. They have nicer homes, better education and more money, and because of this the whites are intolerant of the blacks. Tom Robinson, who was only trying to help Mayella Ewell out with her chores is convicted with raping her, without any of the powerful white community stepping in to protest. This demonstrates how the honest Maycomb citizens fear being targeted if they help out a Negro. The way in which the jury passes a verdict with only hearing circumstantial evidence, shows their intolerance and hate towards blacks, they are pleased convicted a black man without reason. Atticus, who stands up against all the racial intolerance when he does not refuse the Tom Robinson case, is quickly called a nigger lover. He is doing his duty as a lawyer to represent Robinson as an equal human being, but he is called a nigger lover because no one is able to see Robinson as an equal because of the intolerance they grew up with. The night when Jem, Scout and Dill try to sneak around on the Radley porch, and then Mr. Radley comes out with the shotgun shows another instance of intolerance from the Caucasian population of Maycomb. When Mr.Radley relays the story of what occurred in his collard patch, no one debates the fact that it's a black man when Radley states that there was "a nigger" in his collard patch. This is because the white citizens of Maycomb have been so accustomed to hearing un-truthful stories which present Negroes in an unfavourable way. Maycomb is a family oriented community and the children listen to their parents. If their parents tell them that black people are evil, they will believe them.The black population in Maycomb also shows intolerance frequently in the novel, slightly less noticeably, but it is represented. When Atticus is appointed to be lawyer for Tom Robinson, some of Robinson's friends and family in the black community are against the idea. They feel that Atticus, being white, will be unable to see Robinson as a man, and they think Atticus will not treat the trial seriously, just because they have an prejudice against whites. When the Finch children accompany Calpurnia to her church, intolerance in the black community is once again present. The children and Cal are confronted by a large black...

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