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Racist Society In Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird

1407 words - 6 pages

Racist Society in Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird

The way I perceive racism would be discrimination and prejudice
against somebody with a different skin colour or ethical background.
In To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee uses racial prejudice as the main
subject matter either towards a single person (for example, Tom
Robinson) or towards groups of people (for example, the black
community in Maycomb.)

To Kill a Mockingbird is set in the 1930's. This is when the blacks
have gained equal rights with white people. Bob Ewell is almost if not
is, fearful of the blacks as he is seen as the lowest of the low, and
he sees there is no definitely defined line between the black
community and himself. As a result Bob Ewell knows that Tom Robinson
did not rape Mayella (probably because it was him) but accuses him of
committing it. This would make Tom feel 'higher' than the blacks as he
knew he Tom would be executed.

The story is told through Scout's eyes. This projects a neutral view
of Maycomb; everybody is the same no matter what colour their skin is.
I think Harper Lee chose to narrate the story through Scout because
she has an innocent, indoctrinated perspective. If the story was told
through Bob Ewell however, his racist point of view would take over.
This is because Bob Ewell is a 'hillbilly redneck' and is too ignorant
too see the other side and to take it into consideration.

In chapter 15 we see racial prejudice taking place when the
townspeople come to Finch's Landing to try and stop Tom Robinson
acquiring a court hearing. When the children come out they make the
townsfolk feel ashamed of themselves and make them realise what they
really are. This shows that even the racist members of Maycomb can
still become non-racist.

We also hear that Jem is aware of Atticus' situation, there is
evidence that Atticus avoids Jem knowing this when Jem asks 'They were
after you weren't they?' Atticus replies with, 'No, son, those were
our friends.' Atticus called them friends because he didn't want to
cause any alarm even though Jem was aware of the situation.

Jem then shows knowledge of racial 'politicians', the Ku Klux Klan, by
responding to Atticus' comment on that he had never heard of a gang in
Maycomb. This is an early sign that Jem is growing up and able to see
what is happening around him, that he doesn't just automatically
accept what he sees.

In the novel, racism shows up at both sides of the spectrum, either
physical racism or verbal racism. The most severe form of physical
racism is in chapter 24 when Tom Robinson is imprisoned and murdered
when trying to escape even though he was assured by Atticus that he
was confident in winning the case. During his murder, he was shot
seventeen times whilst trying to escape the prison. If this was a non-
racist attack, however,...

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