Think back to a time when you have felt utterly powerless. That was the same feeling that many African Americans felt in the first half of the twentieth century. The time period was filled with hate and ignorance towards minorities, especially in the American South. This is the setting of Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Characters like Tom Robinson are subjected to the community’s hate and arrogance and end up in situations with little or no control of their fate. The central theme, racism, in To Kill a Mockingbird shows that African Americans were not accepted as equals in Maycomb County, the geographical location the story occurs, children like Jem and Scout Finch who were left ...view middle of the document...
Most of the jurors would be racists and would therefore be biased and inclined to make sure the white man would win any court case, regardless of the evidence presented by the African American’s attorney. African Americans were left helpless at the hand of the white man in this time period.
When exposed to racism and the social hierarchy of Maycomb County, Jem and Scout Finch were perplexed by this idea of inequality towards minorities.
“‘Well how do you know we ain’t negroes?’
‘Uncle Jack Finch says we don’t really know. He says as far as one can trace back the Finches, we ain’t, but for all he knows we mighta come straight out of Ethiopia durin’ the Old Testament.’
‘Well if we came out of the Old Testament, it’s too long ago to matter.’
‘That’s what I thought,’ said Jem, ‘but around here a drop of negro blood, that’d make you all black,’” (Lee 216.) Jem and Scout are confused why a “drop” of African blood means you are black to the citizens of Maycomb, even if all people originated from Africa. It would ridiculous and too hard to trace back the whole heritage of every citizen in Maycomb. “‘Background doesn’t mean old family,’ said Jem. ‘I think it is how long your families been readin’ and writin. Scout, I’ve studied this real hard and that’s the only reason I can think of,’” (Lee 303). The children have trouble grasping the fact that their family’s background equates to higher social status. The children are probably confused by this because Atticus Finch, their...