English 12 Honors
4 January 2008
Historical Context from the 1930s in To Kill a Mockingbird
"To Kill a Mockingbird [by Harper Lee] is a powerful commentary on racial injustice and small town life in the South. Harper Lee's story has roots in real life experiences in the South during the 1930s" (Giddens-White). Lee uses what he knows from living in the south and the history of the south to create a realistic setting in the novel. To Kill a Mockingbird is about a young tom-boy, Scout, and her brother Jem who have a lawyer as their father, Atticus. A white woman accuses a black man, Tom Robinson, of rape despite the fact he did not do it. Atticus takes up the case despite the tension and problems it will cause. The jury however ignores blatant evidence and Tom is convicted based on racism alone. Tom then tries to escape from prison, or so we're told, and is shot dead. The story is wrapped with racism, prejudice, and the general ideas of the south and way of life during this time. The historical context of the novel can be easily seen portrayed in the trial of Tom Robinson, the portrayal of social classes, and the treatment and actions of different races and gender in the nineteen thirties; the historical context can also be link into Harper Lee's personal life and experiences. There are many similarities between Lee's trial in the novel, and the one that occurred in real life, the Scottsboro trials. The trials, as depicted by author Craig Bradley, began On March 25, 1931, a freight train was stopped in Paint Rock, a tiny community in Northern Alabama, and nine young Black men who had been riding the rails were arrested. As two white women - one underage - descended from the freight cars, they accused the men of raping them on the train. Within a month the first man was found guilty and sentenced to death. (Bradley) There are many things about the two trails are strikingly similar; The Scottsboro trial took place during the 1930s in a...