“To Kill A Mocking Bird” is set in America’s deep south and deals with crucial issues in society at the beginning of the twentieth century like racism, education practices and the role of female in society.
There are many destructive forces in this world that may destroy our humanity, beat down our beliefs and wreck havoc on our morals. Greed, arrogance, anger, ignorance… but none so powerful as racism. Racism is the worst kind of prejudice in society. Jared Taylor, editor of American Renaissance Magazine, states, “People prefer the company of people like themselves.” For this, and many other reasons, racism has been prevalent since the beginning of time. Racism is even present today in the twenty first century. Racism is a big issue, which some authors find interesting to write about. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee contains numerous examples of prejudice and racism. To Kill a Mockingbird takes place in the fictional small Southern town of Maycomb in the 1930s. Slavery and the Civil War of the 1860s still loom large in the rearview mirror, but the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s is just a speck on the future horizon. The south, as it was in 1930s America was more than just southern belles and gentlemen. The days moved at the subdued pace of tired old men who took mid-day strolls on the searing sidewalk. Though, now and again, a force so powerful would provoke a sedated southern town into a fury. Ever since the dawn of America division, prejudice, and hatred have been reasons for insurmountable conflict. Maycomb County serves as an important backdrop to central issues which plagued early 20th century southern America. Prior to the feminist movement of the 1960s, women had to follow strict gender roles. Scout is a prime example of a female child struggling to fit these roles placed upon her by not only males in society, but women too. The moment Aunt Alexandra enters Maycomb, she places it upon herself to mould young Scout and Jem into their societal roles. Scout especially suffers a great deal of criticism and pressure from her Aunt to be the stereotypical girl; "We decided that it would be best for you to have some feminine influence. It won't be many years, Jean Louise, before you become interested in clothes and boys". (Pg 133) Aunt Alexandra's comment directed to Scout, reflects the common values of Maycomb County and of that era. Jem, as he starts to grow up also wishes that Scout "started bein' a girl" (pg 121). Miss Stephanie also informs her that she won't become a lady until she wears more dresses. This also stresses the importance of becoming a "lady". To be a lady in the south obviously means more than simply being a female; one has to look and act the part according to the people of that time. Even Atticus, a man who stands for equality, makes sexist comments of his own; "I guess it's to protect our frail women from sordid cases like Tom's." (Pg 227) He tells Jem that women are not allowed to serve on juries in Alabama. Atticus even jokes that the court would never get a complete case tried with women on the jury because women would interrupt to ask questions. Scout even agrees with Atticus on this. She says, “Perhaps our forefathers were wise.” (Pg 227) Atticus' remarks prove that sexism and gender roles are a norm in society, and their offensiveness is not greatly considered. It's not just the men who place women in their roles; it's the women themselves who take it upon themselves to enforce these rules. Sexism is an issue that has long been tackled in society, but it is evident that women in society have only just begun to break free of long held values which have oppressed them in the past. Shortly after the novel begins, Scout starts her first year at school. The educational system in Maycomb leaves much to be desired. Scout is ahead of her classmates because Atticus has taught her to read and write, and Calpurnia has even taught her script. However, once her teacher discovers this,...
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