Using Tom Robinson's Trial As A Starting Point, Explain What We Learn About Maycomb Society From Reading 'to Kill A Mockingbird'.

1380 words - 6 pages

Throughout the whole of the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, we learn about many aspects of Maycomb society. However, many of these aspects are revealed most clearly during the heart of the novel, the trial against Tom Robinson. He was a black accused of raping Mayella Ewell, of the disrespected Ewell family. We learn more about how Maycomb has a close society by the majority of people having one opinion about a certain subject, e.g. racial prejudice. We learn more about the three key witnesses, Bob and Mayella Ewell, and Tom Robinson. We see how they are rejected by the Maycomb community, and therefore considered to be outsiders. We learn more about the way that Maycomb residents live by a strict code. 'She has merely broken a rigid and time- honoured code of our society.'Prejudice is arguably the most prominent theme of the novel. It is directed towards groups and individuals in the Maycomb community. Racial prejudice is the fiercest form of prejudice in the novel. It is important to explore the background reasons why racial prejudice occurs in the first place. The abolition of slavery after the American Civil War had changed the legal position of Negroes in American society. The Whites now saw the Negroes as potential competitors for jobs, particularly in the hard years of the Economic Depression during which To Kill a Mockingbird is set. Fear and paranoia led to the belief by Whites that the Negroes desired all that the Whites had, including their women. This can be supported by the quote, '- that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral beings, that all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women.' Here, Atticus is summing up the prejudice against the Negro community by the respected white community to the court.The first aspect we learn about Maycomb society following racial prejudice is that there is a separation of communities. 'The coloured balcony...' The Negroes are forced to sit in a separate area from the Whites. This emphasises that the amount of racial prejudice is so large that the whites must go to the extent of separating themselves from the Negroes. Aunt Alexandra shows a similar sort of prejudice. 'She did not permit Calpurnia to make the delicacies required to the sustain the Society through long reports of Rice Christians.' She does not feel that Calpurnia is good enough to cook for her friends.A similar type of prejudice is shown prior to the trial. 'Coloured folks won't have 'em because they're half white; white folks won't have 'em 'cause they're coloured, so there just in- betweens.' This prejudice is also racial, but aimed at mixed children. It shows how strict the separation of communities is. It consists of Whites and Negroes. In betweens are rejected even more than Negroes are by Whites. This leads to the point that racism goes both ways in the society. 'I wants to know why you bringin' white chillun to nigger church.' Some Negroes are resentful towards Whites for showing so much disrespect....

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