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Southern life of the 1930s has become synonymous with farmers and small-town life. It defined an epoch of cotton growing, slavery, and the Great Depression. Money was difficult to come by, and farmers relied on the labor of their segregated workers more than ever. Although Maycomb seems a cozy country town, it is, in reality, the opposite. While some of the main characters may follow the modest, always righteous cliche, very few of the residents of Maycomb seem to care for justice.
To kill a mockingbird is a sin according to Harper Lee; perhaps she is telling us that justice and equality are not always preserved.
Even when people fight and persist, it does not ensure the prevailing of good over evil. Atticus Finch has solid morals and was willing to defend Tom Robinson in the face of public humiliation. His kids were insulted and he lost his favor with many. Atticus told Scout not to fight, but she had trouble upholding his demand when “Cecil Jacobs made me forget.
He had announced in the schoolyard the day before that Scout Finch’s daddy defended niggers.” How could someone say such a derogatory statement to a seven-year-old? It shows that people were just accustomed to following the crowd, racist people could mold a town to their liking and even if one man tried hard like Atticus, nothing was likely to change. Atticus gave a very compelling case that applied solely to logic-based conclusions but, “Mr. Tate who handed it to the clerk who handed it to the judge…I shut my eyes.
Judge Taylor was polling the jury:‘Guilty… guilty… guilty…guilty…’” Mr. Ewell had faced hard evidence showing that he had beaten his daughter yet Tom Robinson was convicted and eventually killed because Atticus could not fight a town bent on protecting their white supremacy. “Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets breakthrough.” by Jonathan Swift. The town of Maycomb had a mind of its own, laws do not apply to it, neither do morals. How can so many people still fight against equality when the country had supposedly ‘reconstructed’ societal equality of the early 1900s? Atticus often parries Bob Ewell’s insults and attacks but he seems out-matched against a full mob. Harper Lee’s town of Maycomb figuratively shows the racism and hate a mob mentality can bring, showing how even if not everyone is racist, it can still influence important outcomes such as the jury’s voting of Tom Robinson’s case.
The author also literally embeds a mob into her story showing how even a good man like Walter Cunningham Sr. was willing to lynch Tom if he was with others. Both Atticus and Tom would have been in deep trouble if Scout had not broken up the event. “You know what we want,” another man said. “Get aside from the door, Mr. Finch.”… “I’ll tell him you said hey, little lady,” he said. Then he straightened up and waved a big paw. “Let’s clear out,” he called. “Let’s get going, boys.” Only after Scout had shaken Walter Cunningham out of his trance with her entailment advice the mob backed off.
Walter Cunningham Sr. who had a son had been willing to lynch a black man in the dark of night simply because everyone else wanted to. Harper Lee uses her lynch mob to highlight how quickly the kindest hearts can be poisoned by an evil influence, in this case, racist white men like Bob Ewell. Another example of someone unnecessarily attacked is Boo Radley. Boo Radley is a grown man who is the topic of gossip and always surrounded by the stigma of seclusion. There was never any proof that Boo was a crazed lunatic, the only knowledge the narrator gets is from Jem: “Jem gave a reasonable description of Boo: Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats”
The description is absurd and the interesting part is that this knowledge is mostly based off of Stephanie Crawford’s gossip. Tom Robinson, Boo Radley, Scout and Jem, and Atticus are all examples of people unjustly attacked by an ignorant Alabamian society. Harper Lee brings to light how the smaller and friendly towns like Maycomb are no stranger to prejudice and the triumph of evil over good. The main plot offers insights into racism and how stubborn it can be in early southern towns. Smaller conflicts show how common it is for people to ignore injustice in daily life. In the end, we can see how the homey town of Maycomb is just a facade that hides the horrors of its broken scale of justice.
Southern life of the 1930s has become synonymous with farmers and small-town life. It defined an epoch of cotton growing, slavery, and the Great Depression. Money was difficult to come by, and farmers relied on the labor of their segregated workers more than ever. The people of Southern America continued to grasp tightly to their bigotry and hate during the recession of 1930 and this is what Harper Lee decided to target in her novel. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee shows how discrimination is not always the classic white versus black but apparent in all parts of the small community. Harper Lee shows how in Maycomb county racism was also amongst different classes of Caucasians and also between African Americans themselves.
Racism towards African Americans is nothing unusual, we dealt with it during colonial America and we are still dealing with its impacts today. The more striking point is that racism is not just aimed at segregated workers and other black people, the local residents are quite the bigots to each other as well. You may think that the majority of racism comes the from the poorer and uneducated farmers as Russian novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn believes when he says “It’s a universal law– intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.” While a portion of Maycomb is destitute and illiterate like the Ewells, even more, distinguished and more educated people like aunt Alexandra held accusations against neighbors with no evidence as can be seen when “Aunty would say, ‘It just goes to show you, all the Penfield women are flighty.” Everybody in Maycomb, it seemed, had a Streak: a Drinking Streak, a Gambling Streak, a Mean Streak, a Funny Streak.”
Here Alexandra is shown to prevent Scout from mingling with neighbors because of various accused habits. Even family members would turn on each other just because of contact with segregated workers. Another example is when Francis taunts Scout by saying, “‘If Uncle Atticus lets you run around with stray dogs, that’s his own business, like Grandma says, so it ain’t your fault. I guess it ain’t your fault if Uncle Atticus is a nigger-lover besides, but I’m here to tell you it certainly does mortify the rest of the family’”. Francis is the grand nephew of Atticus but this seems not to matter because he feels it necessary to call his grand-uncle derogatory terms just for protecting Tom. This comes to show that while the white man is often known for his brutality against black people, they are also shown to be brutal against themselves.
While African Americans have gotten the short end of the stick. They are not truly innocent of prejudice against others. While it seems logical to harbor some distrust toward their captors, in To Kill a Mockingbird a black woman shows her true feelings toward Scout and Jem when “She spoke quietly, contemptuously. ‘I want to know why you bringin‘ white chillun to nigger church.’” Here we can see that Lula is extremely hateful of white people when she is willing to confront and insult innocent children, who in addition haven’t even formed full ideas on racism. Although this may not seem too malicious seeing as it is a church intended for African Americans this is not the only case. Jem soon educates Scout when she asks
‘Jem,’ I asked, ‘what’s a mixed child?’ ‘Half white, half colored. You’ve seen ‘em, Scout. You know that red-kinkyheaded one that delivers for the drugstore. He’s half white. They’re really sad.’ ‘Sad, how come?’ ‘They don’t belong anywhere. Colored folks won’t have ‘em because they’re half white; white folks won’t have ’em cause they’re colored, so they’re just in-betweens, don’t belong anywhere.’ In this conversation, we see how the offspring of Raymond Dolphus are shunned by whites and African Americans alike. This shows how even though mixed children have not done anything to anyone they are still the target of hate from segregated workers. Even though segregated workers were the lowest social class in Maycomb county it showed how deeply segregated workers must have hated mixed children to deny friendship with the few people willing to associate with segregated workers. This shows how common it was to harbor prejudice in the community of segregated workers in particular.
In Maycomb County, Alabama racism sparks conflicts between Caucasians and African Americans, between Caucasians and themselves, and between Africans Americans and themselves. These quarrels only further point out how apparent racism had become in a little southern town. Not only are the residents willing to condemn an innocent slave rather a guilty white man, but the locals of Maycomb attack each other because of their simple duties. Atticus was insulted by his own family for defending a black man. However, racist views were not kept on one side. Even African Americans felt the urge to hold hatred against white people and other black people. Harper Lee in her best-seller To Kill a Mockingbird seeks to show us that the history and culture of the South lie not with the prosperous farmers of Louisiana but with the tainted men of southern towns who used racism as their weapon.
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