Racism in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird affects all of the characters and events in the novel in different ways

Topics: African American, To Kill a Mockingbird, White people Pages: 2 (1063 words) Published: April 23, 2015
Racism in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird affects all of the characters and events in the novel in different ways. To Kill a Mockingbird takes place during the Depression when blacks were still highly segregated and second-class members of society. Blacks were not permitted to commingle with whites in public settings, as shown in the courthouse seating (the black balcony) as well as in the very clear black and white areas of town. Blacks and whites who intermarried were rare and were shunned by both societies. Atticus, Jen and Scout Finch are the protagonists of this novel. Atticus is not a racist and has no intention of allowing his children to grow up racist, regardless of what all the other members of the Maycomb white society might think. He even refers to racism as “Maycomb’s usual disease” (p 92). Racism plays a major role in this book. Two very specific examples of where the actual story and characters are affected by the racism can be seen first in the accusation of Mayella Ewell against Tom Robinson and again when the verdict of the trial is announced. The first time Tom Robinson is mentioned, he is not even called by name, but simply as “that nigger”. Atticus clears it up by telling Scout , “ I’m simply defending a Negro – Tom Robinson’s his name” (p100). Tom Robinson is a caring, helpful African-American man, described by Calpurnia as “clean-living folks” (p100). He is accused by Mayella Ewell of rape. In Chapter 9, Jack asks Atticus about the trial and the first we hear of the story is, “The only thing we’ve got is a black man’s word against the Ewells’. The evidence boils down to you-did I-didn’t. The jury couldn’t possibly be expected to take Tom Robinson’s word against the Ewells’ - are you acquainted with the Ewells? (p116-117). While we don’t get the full story of the accusation until the trial, it is apparent that many upstanding citizens of Maycomb are aware that while Tom probably didn’t rape Mayella, they don’t think any...
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