A. Harper Lee was born April 28, 1926, in Monroeville, Alabama. Harper Lee grew up and still sometimes resides in a small Alabama town in the southern part of the state, Monroeville. She undoubtedly was witness to some terrible racial interactions before and during the civil rights movement. The origin of Tom Robinson is less clear, though many have speculated that his character was inspired by several models. When Lee was 10 years old, a white woman near Monroeville accused a black man named Walter Lett of raping her. The story and the trial were covered by her father's newspaper, and Lett was convicted and sentenced to death. After a series of letters appeared claiming Lett had been falsely accused, his sentence was commuted to life in prison. He died there of tuberculosis in 1937. Scholars believe that the plot may have also been influenced by the notorious case of the Scottsboro Boys, in which nine black men were convicted of raping two white women on very poor evidence. However, in 2005 Lee stated that she had in mind something less sensational, although the Scottsboro case served "the same purpose" to display Southern prejudices. Emmett Till, a black teenager who was murdered for flirting with a white woman in Mississippi in 1955, and whose death is credited as a catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement, is also considered a model for Tom Robinson. The novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, takes place during a racially intense time in history. Harper Lee’s novel was intended to bring a harsh sense of reality to the real world, and demonstrate how it really was during this time in history. This novel is set in Maycomb, Alabama, somewhere during the time period of 1925-1935. Times were hard for the citizens of Maycomb during this period, because of the depression. There are many fictional events in this novel related to non-fictional racial events in history. B. Harper Lee book To Kill a Mocking Bird was influence by the events that happened in her life, because her writing closely relates to many events such as, the Scottsboro Boys trial, great depression and the race issues that ravaged her times.
II.First Main Point( Scottsboro boys trial)
A.The details of the trial. (Crime, people, accuser)
1. One main event that happened in Harper Lee’s life time that influenced her writing was the Scottsboro boy’s case. It has many similarities as the Tom Robinson case in To Kill a Mockingbird. In both cases the crime was rape, the accusers were southern white women, and in both cases the black man were falsely convicted. “Tom Robinsons trial bears striking parallels to the Scottsboro Trial, one of the most famous- or infamous court cases in American history: Both the fictional and historical cases take place in the 1930s,; both occur in Alabama, In both too , the defendants were African American men, the accusers white women. In both instances the charge was rape.” (Johnson)
a. The obvious and undeniable similarities between the fictional and historical case proofs that there must be some connection between the two cases. B. Results and process of the trial.
1. Also there was a connection between the real life judge of the Scottsboro boys and the character of Atticus Finch the judge for Thomas Robinson. “..there is a similarity between the novel’s Atticus Finch and the real life Judge James R. Harton, both of whom acted in behalf of black men on trial in defiance of the communities wishes at a time of high feeling. (Johnson)
a. Atticus went against the wishes of the towns’ people and put his reputation on the line for Tom, just like James had done for the boys. They both have a great believe in fairness and are against racism. C. Racial empowerment of judgments.
1.Even as the evidence stacked up what might be obvious for us today might not seem so obvious in the eyes of the full white jury. Who’s minds clouded by hatred and prejudice. “His attorney Leibowitz felt sure of a victory, not only did the doctor who had examined the two women provide evidence directing no rape had occurred, but also one of the women, Bates recanted her original testimony and denied she had been raped.” (Scottsboro Boys case) a. In one article it stated that the jury came back laughing and was in the back room playing checkers to take up time. Just to make them selves look like they had to take much time to consider the decision. (Scottsboro Boys Case). III. Second Main Point (The great depression times)
A.Relation between economies between the two times.
1. In the book To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee created a poor society going through hard times when many people are losing their jobs and not getting enough to eat. Mr. Ewell gets a job with the WPA, the WPA is the Works Progress Administration and was created to give unemployed people jobs during the Depression, “In 1937 the average annual salary for public school teachers was $1,367; unemployment reached 14.3 percent, inflation was 15 percent…” (Ernest 1)
a. This was very similar to the setting and economy of the one in TKM. Many people were put out of work and the people who had jobs had to make due with what little money they had. Like the Rockingham family who barely had enough to eat, or any at all to eat.
B. The similarities of the societies of that time.
1. “Yet according to the standard history, ms.Shales writes in her bracing introduction, the 1920s were a period of false growth and low morals… The crash was the honest acknowledgment of the break down of capitalism and the case of the depression. (Ernest 1) It was a time of low moral everyone was poor and lived on basic needs. Many even blamed the black population for no clear reason except for there color. Also this is represented in the book when Mrs. Rockingham and his mob of people came to the jail to take Tom Robinson, this shows everyone is on the edge of their nerve and they need someone to blame. So they try to take out their anger anyway they can.
C. Prejudice caused by the depression.
1 The economical depression of that time sparked new anger in the white population when they claimed that African Americans were taking there jobs and due to this much of the white population were enraged and often used the method of lynching to teach the blacks a lesson. “The basic time setting is in the South during the early twentieth century (1930s). Due to the Great Depression, poverty is a subject that affects many. Instead of using this as a binding theme, the people in the town use it as an element of separation. Prejudice of every sort runs rampant throughout the town, and even though things are simply "not fair", the time frame has to be remembered.” (Ahamad 1)
IV.Third Main Point Events in the Civil rights movement era
A. Emmett Till case
BRosa parks Montgomery Bus Boycott.
CInfluenced her to combat racism and help influence the people through her book to change. 1. “The dramatic impact of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird was heightened by the conditions under which African-Americans were living in the deep South, the emerging changes in their legal situation, and the turbulent relationship between the races at the time of its publication. The novel appeared within four years of two of the most dramatic events in civil rights history , both of which occurred in Alabama (Johnson 1)”
V. It can be concluded that there are many examples of prejudice in this novel, and that there are just that many more examples of prejudice in the real world. Tom Robinson was found guilty on all charges, just as in the Scottsboro case. Tom Robinson was placed in prison and upon attempting an escape, was shot and killed by prison guards. This novel has events and prejudice related to actual historical events, doing so shows a side of the non-fiction world that must be noticed by all.