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Racism In Amistad, To Kill A Mocking Bird, And Telephone Conversation

1789 words - 7 pages

The texts To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee, Amistad directed by Steven Spielberg and Telephone Conversation by Wole Soyinka explore the issue of racism. These three texts focus on prejudice, discrimination, bias, behaviour and attitude revolving around the issue of discrimination because of the coulour of ones skin and the cultural and social attitudes past on from one generation to another. Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel set in the southern states of the USA in the 1930’s, a time that is “Post Abolitionist”, however a time where the culture and social structure is still entrenched with racist attitudes and laws. Lee explores these issues in this setting when Ton Robinson, an African American is accused of raping a young white girl in a small town of Maycomb, Alabama. Racial attitudes are exposed when a lawyer by the name of Atticus Finch is asked to defend to the alleged rapist. Telephone conversation by Wole Soyinka is a poem which uses dialogue between two people, one in a public telephone box and the other in a public telephone box and the other in a home in London, England to reinforce racial tensions, attitudes and class values. An intelligent, articulate and well educated black man seeking rental accommodation responds to a woman’s advertisement and is challenged by her about the colour of his skin. The poet explores this racial tension with the use of satire and perceptive dialogue. Steven Spielberg directs the film Amistad, and chronicles an incredible journey of a group of enslaved Africans who mutiny an attempt of their capture in order to return to their homeland. Their ship is seized and the slaves are brought to the United States to be charged with murder. Spielberg ensures that the responder is confronted by the flaws of the American justice system, racial attitudes and a fight for the basic rights of mankind … freedom. These three texts develop awareness in the responder of the power of attitudes, the ignorance and fear behind racism and how pervasive racial tension has been from one generation to another.

To kill a mockingbird investigates the racial tension in Maycomb by analysing features of attitudes towards Negroes that date back many generations. The meaning of the title “To Kill a Mockingbird” itself evokes the idea of racism that Lee wants to portray to the composer. Throughout the book, Tom Robinson is symbolised as the most important mockingbird—an innocent who has been injured or destroyed. He is the mockingbird who helps his accuser in her chores and is killed due to the deep seated attitudes towards African Americans present in the southern states of America. Mr. Underwood compares his death to the “the senseless slaughter of songbirds”.

Lee also explores the systems which were present in those times that allowed for the racism to continue throughout the society. Judicial systems, political system, social system was structured for racism, segregation and discrimination. The Social system in Maycomb...

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