Racial and Social Inequality in “To Kill a Mockingbird”

Categories: To Kill A Mockingbird

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is a majorly widespread book written by Harper Lee during the 1950s, the story took place in between 1933 to 1935 in a town called Maycomb. It is known by many scholars and critics too. As of late, it has been voted as the second most perused book in America which has benefitted each area of society after the Bible. The significant purpose behind its prompt exemplary status was the topic of 'Racial Inequality' and “social inequality” which was the consuming issue of mid twentieth century (Husband, 2019).

Despite the fact that Negroes weren't slaves, they didn't appreciate a trustworthy status in the public arena, either. They were out-casted from the general public of 'ordinary People'. They were treated with reasonably as long as they remained genuinely steadfast, faultless resident and a decent individual to 'The Whites'. Various areas of society had distinctive stature. There were most regarded Finches', then came the Cunnighams who were too self-pride notwithstanding their poverty.

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Ewells were known for their low-class status and as an aggravating element who keep themselves segregated from the general public. the Protagonist, Scout Finch, and her sibling, Jem Finch were only youngsters when they began experiencing the brutal substances and unpleasant lifestyles. Some unpleasant occurrences helped them staging into adulthood and improved their elucidation of an occasion. At first, they had infantile viewpoint of everything.

Yet, a brilliant instruction by their dad Atticus Finch, expanded their comprehension of everything (Atkinson, 1999).

As the book goes on we encounter the sad truth of “racial injustice” in the society.

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To Kill a Mockingbird shows that racism does in fact exist and it portrays an image of “white” racist people are bad, while the non-racist “white” people are good. The black man who is known in the book as Tom Robinson, is a suspect of rape or as what we know in the beginning, we then find out that he was actually accused of it only by the daughter of Bob Ewell, Mayella. She knew that due to the color of skin, they would believe her over him because she is white, disregarding her social class (Atkinson, 1999). Tom was an innocent man who’s word didn’t mean anything against hers. Atticus Finch the wealthy lawyer decided to take over the case and bring Tom justice, which caused people in his town to go against him due to the fact that he was a “upper class” white man defending the acts of a lower class “black” man from hurting/violating a white girl.

A character named Calpurnia, who's the house keeper of the Finch family, is one of only a handful of colored people who knows how to read and write. Atticus' dad instructed her. It tells that now and again, Blacks got their opportunity to be proficient, to be taught and some of them snatched it. Calpurnia likewise has a twofold existence. At the point when she's among the Blacks, she talks like them for example talking in wrong grammar, creating false sentence structures. She tells the kids that it is important to carry on like that. Since Blacks don't care for somebody showing them around, particularly their very own sort. Blacks loathed their own kin getting taught or just more astute than them (Meyer, 2011). The essence of this is, it was not just the white men who disheartened Blacks. Indeed, even their own kind was not prepared for the changes, for the education, for the self-sufficient control of themselves. It is possible that they were fearful or they firmly loathed the possibility of education and they may have considered it to be a tool that just white men use.

Here, the interbreed kids are being felt sorry for by Jem. As indicated by him, these 'Metisse' don't have any place in society. White people won't have them 'since they have Negro blood in themselves. Negroes won't have them 'since they are half white. They have no place to go. In a theoretical circumstance of Dolphus Raymond's demise, which is another character in the story, who lived with his black mistress and had mixed kids with, where might his kids go? What people group would they truly have a place with? This post-present day idea is stale and unsatisfactory in those occasions (Meyer, 2011). Today, the greater part of us are either migrants or mixed. In any case, in those occasions, it was exceptionally sporadic. Any individual who's endeavors to shake down the old Aristocracy and presents an embodying deed for the cutting edge times would be out-casted (Milică, 2012). And unequivocally, that was the end result for Mr. Dolphus Raymond and his family. To add to all this information let us talk about the word “Race”. The power of “race” as a method for grasping human diversity lies basically in our directness with categorization. In the off chance that categorization can bring levels of contortion into the unbiased elements of the physical world (Saney, 2003). Social psychology, by investigating formation and inter-group perception, has gone far to uncovering exactly how incredible the effective and ego-enhancing improving of social classification are. (Atkinson, 1999). “As a way of categorizing people, race is based upon a delusion because popular ideas about racial classification lack scientific validity and are molded by political pressures rather than by the evidence from biology” (Ferritier, 2016)

Another form of themes discussed in the story would be, the existence of social inequality, class. Class is an arrangement of ordering society where individuals are partitioned into sets dependent on perceived social or economic status (Ricker-Wilson, 1998). What is the problem that “class’ represents? The issue that it portrays is inequality. Undoubtedly, in whatever historical and geopolitical setting they are articulated, “class names” (the elites, the rich, the middle class, the working class, and the underclass), are names that differently uncover basic states of inequality. Mike Savage contends: “there are numerous ways of examining stratification and inequality which do not require the concept of class. (Tyler, 2015), it is important for sociologists to retain the term “class” in order to draw out the way the economic inequalities are implicated in wider social, cultural and political divisions” (Tyler, 2015). To emphasis his argument, we can clarify, if “inequality is the problem that class names”, at that point equality is unquestionable to the sociology of class. Class interpretation is appropriately concerned about creating methods and techniques which may enable us to better comprehend and address the impacts of class-based inequalities and the types of utilization which go with and empower inequalities to be supported and reproduced (Bourdieu and Nice, 1980). In the case of “To Kill a Mockingbird”, in Maycomb, initially there is segregation among rich and poor white individuals, who don't regularly connect with one another. There is additionally racism against blacks by every white individual in the public eye, both rich and poor. Black individuals are denied fundamental rights and oppressed in this town. the final form of social inequality is the difference between females and males. At the time, females were not thought to be equal to males and due to that, they were expected to follow certain norms set for them and act in a way most applicable to that. for instance, they were expected to follow through with actions that were formal and very feminine. this can be seen by how Aunt Alexandra treats Scout as she is aware of these norms. She tries to mold Scout into the image of a lady that society is in favor of.

The Finches are known to be white well-off family that is well-known in the city of Maycomb. The book was based in the late 19th century, where black people in the US were not slaves anymore, but the laws limited the social, political, and economic possibilities available to the black civilization (Atkinson, 1999). The Ewell family on the other hand are known as “white trash”. They are the farmers in the society. They are uneducated, dirty and uncivilized. They cannot be controlled by anything or anyone, not even the Government. In spite of all these factors, they are still accepted by society due to their white skin. Tom Robinson was a black man who was a black man that is not only disrespected because of his cover but also treated lower than the Ewells, his skin color makes him lower in classification, despite his actual social status. In Tom’s case as mentioned above, he was accused of rape by Bob Ewell’s daughter Mayella Ewell. They took the case to court, he eventually committed suicide knowing his case would go nowhere due to his skin color and classification in their society. If only Mayella knew better than trying to seduce a black man, she could have saved his life. Another character that is still looked down upon due to the color of her skin, is the cook Calpurnia who due to her skin color is working as the “high class” Finches. She lived in Tom Robinsons neighborhood. Quoted by Jem Finch to Scout Finch, Jem says: “the thing about it is, our kind of folks don’t like the Cunninghams, the Cunninghams don’t like the Ewells, and the Ewells hate and despise the colored folks.” (Lee, 1960). In Maycomb, poverty is dependent on social class, which was caused by the period of The Great Depression. The white man, Mr. Dolphus Raymond, who lived with his black mistress and mixed kids, quoted that: “…cry about the hell white people give colored folks, without even stopping to think they’re people, too.” (Lee, 1960). Even though the Finches where on the top of the Hierarchy list, Atticus always believed in equality and always tried to teach his kids that, Atticus says to Jem Finch: “First of all,' he said, 'if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view-'(Lee, 1960)

It is very difficult to conclude such a cherished book, but To Kill a Mockingbird, is a book that focuses on so many different themes, and the two that are mostly suppressed in our society specially back then in the 20th century, are Racial injustice and Social inequality.


  1. Atkinson, R. (1999). Liberating Lawyers: Divergent Parallels in 'Intruder in the Dust' and 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' Duke Law Journal, 49(3), p.601.
  2. Banton, M. and Harwood, J. (1975) The Race Concept. London: David and Charles
  3. Bourdieu, P. and Nice, R. (1980). The aristocracy of culture. Media, Culture & Society, 2(3), pp.225-254.
  4. Charles Husband, J. (2019). SAGE Books - ‘Race’ and Ethnicity: Definitions and Issues. [online] Sk.sagepub.com. Available at: http://sk.sagepub.com/books/representing-race/n1.xml [Accessed 17 May 2019].
  5. Ferritier, M. (2016). Routledge handbook of sport, race and ethnicity. pp.77-98.
  6. Mele, V. and Vujnovic, M. (n.d.). Globalizing cultures. pp.233-257.
  7. Meyer, L. (2011). I Would Kill for You: Love, Law and Sacrifice in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. SSRN Electronic Journal.
  8. Milică, I. (2012). Racial Violence in William Faulkner’s Dry September and Harper Lee’s to Kill a Mockingbird. Linguaculture, 2012(1).
  9. Ricker-Wilson, C. (1998). When the Mockingbird Becomes an Albatross: Reading and Resistance in the Language Arts Classroom. The English Journal, 87(3), p.67.
  10. Tyler, I. (2015). Classificatory Struggles: Class, Culture and Inequality in Neoliberal Times. The Sociological Review, 63(2), pp.493-511.
  11. Lee, H. (1960). To Kill a Mockingbird. 1st ed. J.B.Lippincot & Co, pp.page 222, page 16, page 230.
  12. Saney, I. (2003). The Case Against To Kill a Mockingbird. Race & Class, 45(1), pp.99-105.
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Racial and Social Inequality in “To Kill a Mockingbird”. (2021, Feb 18). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/racial-and-social-inequality-in-to-kill-a-mockingbird-essay

Racial and Social Inequality in “To Kill a Mockingbird”
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