The Verdict Of Tom Robinson In Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird

2158 words - 9 pages

The Verdict of Tom Robinson in Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird

A closer look at the ways of the South during the time period 1925 through 1935 reveals the accurate representation of society in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. Many of the fictional events occurring in the novel are closely related to actual historical events that took place in the South during the time period in which the book is set. Most importantly, the trial of Tom Robinson illustrates how life was for a black man in a world dominated by white men. Tom Robinson’s trial can be paralleled to the trials of the Scottsboro boys, the horrific lynching that occurred in the South, and the general attitude of white society towards black society during the time period. Historical evidence verifies that Tom Robinson is proven guilty before his trial ever begins.

The mid 1920s to mid 1930s were an especially dark time in history for the South. Many terrible things happened, predominantly directed toward people with black skin. “Whites in the South regarded blacks as inferiors, both intellectually and biologically” (Gado). To express their hatred for blacks, white people often participated in hate crimes directed toward Negroes. Lynching was very prominent in the South during this time period. “The term “lynching” refers only to the concept of vigilantism, in which citizens would assume the role of judge, jury and executioner” (Gado). The actual process of lynching was gruesome and incredibly violent. Black victims were hacked to death, dragged behind cars, burned, beaten, whipped, shot, and persecuted in many other sickening ways. James Irwin was the unfortunate victim of a lynching that occurred on January 31, 1930 in Ocilla, Georgia. Although, Irwin never received a trial, he was charged with the murder of a white girl. An enraged mob took Irwin into custody and proceeded to torture him. His fingers and toes were cut off, his teeth pulled out with pliers, and finally he was castrated. The rampaging mob was still not satisfied; Irwin was then burned in front of hundreds of onlookers (Gado). Often onlookers would take pieces of the corpse as souvenirs of the event. The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was frequently the establishment culpable for many of these gruesome lynchings; the main purpose of the KKK was to terrorize black citizens. “The Ku Klux Klan was fully dedicated to the oppression of the black man” (Gado). Lynching frequently enjoyed the approval of the public, and no one was ever punished for this barbaric killing. “In many photos of lynchings...members of the mob can be seen smiling and grinning for the camera. They demonstrate no fear of prosecution or reprisal. They had none”(Gado). The KKK had no fear of being punished because “the group was so influential that many politicians felt compelled to court it or even to join…Senators, congressmen, governors, judges at all levels…donned the hood and robe” (Gado). “For under the white robes…were often the...

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