One novel that teaches us that history does not turn a blind eye and shows us all the evils that exist in our world today is Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus’ decision to defend Tom Robinson during his trial is indicative of how harmful human behavior can be towards one another. Prejudice, which is abundant in Maycomb and the south, is seen by children as confusing until they are old enough to grasp the concept. Lee portrays the children in the novel as observers as they strive to understand why prejudice and racism lead to Tom’s civil rights being violated. African-American struggles continue today, but their struggle for their civil rights throughout history parallel this novel. Even though events in the novel are a work of fiction, their struggles are very real. Amendment 14 to the Bill of Rights states that all American citizens shall have civil rights regardless of skin color. Tom is denied his civil rights even though he is a U.S. citizen; his skin color is other than white so he has no rights. Atticus defended Tom to the end but since Tom was an African-American, he was judged before the trial even began.
As Americans we value our civil rights like we value our lives. When these liberties become endangered we will defend them with our lives with just cause and this novel expresses this central idea. All citizens, despite skin color deserve to be treated equal without prejudice. Lee shows us the truth about civil rights and the dangers of prejudice and racism in times where it was predominantly just human nature. There are two cases that give To Kill a Mockingbird a reasonable cause for someone to believe that this was really how the south was during the African-American movement. In 1931, The Scottsboro Boys trial was taking place and nine young boys were falsely accused and found guilty of raping two white women on a train, Lee uses this case as an example of Tom’s trial in the novel (Salter). Another
Cited: Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Warner Books. 1982. Salter, Daren. Scottsboro. 25 10 2009. 25 11 2011 <http://encyclopediaofalabama.org/face/Article.jsp?id=h-1456>.