To Kill A Mockingbird Essay

1913 words - 8 pages

By: Leslie Johnson What place did a southern woman and blacks have in the 1930's? There are stereotypes that have been around for years about both categories. In some views the southern woman is considered the backbone of the family while at other times she is looked upon as a frail being that men must protect from danger. Ideas of a southern woman in To Kill A Mockingbird are represented by wearing a big dress, attending tea parties, and gossiping with friends all day. Stereotypes about blacks in To Kill A Mockingbird are that they are uneducated poor people who are in a lower class than everyone else is. The truth, though, is that southern womanhood and the black race have received mixed representations in both history and literature. In To Kill A Mockingbird women's position and expectations are comparable to the stereotypes of blacks therefore Scout has major conflicts with growing up in Maycomb County. After the Civil War white men became concerned with the preservation of the South and its traditions. Some concerns were for the purity of southern womanhood. The fear was that blacks would try to dominate the white women since they were now free. This sparked much of the violence that followed after the war towards the black race and for years to come. To Kill A Mockingbird is a book set in the 1930's in a small town called Maycomb located in Alabama. Often as with small towns, the views are extremely conservative. "There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County" remembers Scout (5). Maycomb can be seen as an everybody-knows-everybody kind of town. The majority of the town conforms to the standard norm, which is conservative and reserved for women. While the norm view of blacks in Maycomb is seen as an unequal partnership. The few people who think differently or act differently in Maycomb pay a price for their actions in To Kill A Mockingbird. The southern women in To Kill A Mockingbird are modeled after the women gathered with Aunt Alexandra in the parlor. "Of course when I would run inside for a drink of water, I would find the living room overrun with Maycomb ladies, sipping, whispering, fanning," recalls Scout (132). This was the only acceptable way for a southern woman to live in the 1930's if she did not want to be considered different. Aunt Alexandra is a perfect example of a traditional Southern woman for Scout to learn from. She was "Secretary of the Maycomb Amanuensis Club and a member of the Missionary Society" (129). Scout was up for a major challenge when she acted as a tomboy, never wanting to accept the way Aunt Alexandra lived. Aunt Alexandra perfected the Southern woman image even when she was away from home, "fitting into the world of Maycomb like a hand into a glove, but never into the world of Jem and me" (131). Even though Aunt Alexandra was a lady she never did connect with the children. Atticus had raised the children...

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