Societal Cruelty and Injustice
The date was March 25, 1931. Nine African American teenagers boarded a train with several white boys and two white women. The white boys jumped off and had the black boys arrested for false claims of having been attacked. Additionally, they were accused of rape by the two women, known to be prostitutes, in the hopes of covering up their own crimes. A series of trials initiated, now known as the Scottsboro Boys trials, where eight of the nine innocent boys were found guilty and sentenced to death. At the time of the Great Depression, countless cases such as this occurred in the South. In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee demonstrates that the innocent are especially vulnerable to the injustices of our society by showing that segregation intensified the struggles of African Americans in the South.
The leading causes of segregation in the South were the Jim Crow Laws, which separated blacks and whites. Many whites wrongly believed that they were the superior race, which caused it to become expected that blacks would sacrifice anything for whites without any hesitation whatsoever. Public areas such as water fountains, bathrooms, buses, trains, and much more were segregated (Bernard 27). An example of this can be found in the novel, where four African Americans give up their front row seats at the Tom Robinson trial to Jem, Scout, and Dill (Lee 164). This shows that African American men were even lower in class than white children. Furthermore, black children attended separate schools and did not receive the same quality of education as white children. Many were illiterate (Bernard 27). In To Kill a Mockingbird, Jem and Scout observe the environment of Calpurnia’s run-down African American church, where the vast majority of the crowd is illiterate and worships without books (Lee 121). Thus, blacks were not given the same opportunities as whites and had to undergo a poorer lifestyle. However, the Jim Crow Laws...
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“Overview: To Kill a Mockingbird.” Literature and Its Times: Profiles of 300 Notable Literary Works and the Historical Events that Influenced Them. Joyce Moss and George Wilson. Volume 3: Growth of Empires to the Great Depression (1890-1930s). Detroit: Gale, 1997. Literature Resource Center: Web. 15 November 2012.
Bernard, Catherine. Understanding Great Literature. Farmington Hills: Lucent Books, 2003.
Felty, Darren. “An Overview of To Kill a Mockingbird.” Literature Resource Center. Detroit: Gale, 2012. Literature Resource Center. Web. 15 November 2012.
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Warner Books, 1982.
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