January 3, 2018
Problems In The Past and Present
In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, race, class and xenophobia are central topics that
influence themes and events that take place in the book. In the book, the reader follows two
young kids, Jem and Scout Finch. They live in Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930’s with their
single father, Atticus Finch. The book follows the kids’ adventurous lives through many different
events that all in some way have to do with race, class, gender and xenophobia. Scout, Jem, and
their friend Dill, who visits from Meridian, Alabama every summer, follow the mystery of their
neighbor, Boo/Arthur Radley. He is unknown to them, aside from many rumors they have heard
about him, and they want to get a good look at him. The kids also encounter a trial where
Atticus, a lawyer, is defending a black man, Tom Robinson, who is accused of raping Mayella
Ewell. Mayella is the daughter of Bob Ewell, who is a very poor man. The trial and the situation
of Atticus defending a black man causes Atticus and his children to receive backlash from the
town. Problems with race, class, gender and xenophobia are also very relevant to America today.
The issues with race, class, and gender arguably all start due to xenophobia which is the fear of
someone who is unknown to you and is not like you. The issues surrounding race, class and
gender have changed and stayed similar since they were depicted in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Issues surrounding race are and have been central to America. In the book, an issue
comes about that involves race. Tom Robinson, a black man, is accused of raping Mayella Ewell,
a white girl. Atticus defends Tom Robinson in his trial. White people of the town go after Atticus
and his kids for that reason. Many people call them “nigger-lovers” and cause them trouble. For
example, Mrs. Dubose, an old lady who lived near the Finch family, called Atticus a
“nigger-lover” while the kids passed by her home (Lee 135). Tom Robinson ended up losing the
case even though the evidence aligned in his favor and arguably showed he did not commit the
crime. It was a white man’s word against a black man’s, and the white man's word won. Atticus
even says to his son, “in our courts, when it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s, the
white man always wins” (Lee 220 ). Tom lost and was found guilty because of the all white jury.
The town was full of people who characterized Tom on what they had heard about him and his
race. The entire United States was full of people like that. Black people all around the country
were like Boo Radley. Boo is a man who never came out of the house and nasty rumours were
spread around about why and what he did at night. In the end, it turned out those things spread
around about him were not true. Black people were misunderstood and were lied about like Boo.
Scout and Jem heard rumors of what Boo did and thought him to be scary and evil. That is what
the town did to Tom and...