In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee incorporates the theme, prejudice, to portray the feelings and thoughts that people had during the time period of the Great Depression; this was described in the Trial where Tom Robinson fought for his life. throughout the 1930's, most people were raised with prejudice beliefs in the South. Whites were taught from generations before them that african americans do not deserve respect. Therefore, it should not be brought to them. Most whites believed that African Americans were to do what they were told, by them.
As the reader begins to see the unfairness of the actions against black people, mostly because of Atticus’ speech, the theme of discrimination is developed through the motive of ‘walking around in their shoes.’ The title, To Kill A Mockingbird is very symbolic and meaningful. The quote which corresponds with the title is also said by Atticus and is, ‘Shoot all the blue jays you want if you can’t hit ‘em, but it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’ There are two characters in the text which are metaphorical to the mockingbird. One is the obvious one, Tom Robinson, a black man accused of the rape of a white girl, whom Atticus defends, and the other is Boo Radley. Just like a mockingbird, Tom Robinson only did good and in the end was accused of a crime he didn’t commit. He helped Mayella Ewell every time she asked, for free, and for it he was accused of raping her.
To understand the racism in this novel, we must first understand this novel illustrates the mistreatment, hatred and injustice towards African Americans in 1930’s. I will use examples from the novel to demonstrate these situations and examine culture in which they were acceptable. The beginning of black racism started when white people went to Africa and took captives and sold them in the southern U.S. Africa American started as possessions like animals—slaves. In the next 200-300 years, they suffered a life which a mankind can not bear anymore. They were forced to work without any payment.
The formation of the Ku Klux Klan was one of the major contributing factors to the long bloody struggle that was racism in America. The Klan is classified as a hate group, and throughout three summits in history forced blacks and other minorities to live in a fear that they did not deserve. The Ku Klux Klan was founded in 1866 by a group of men including John D. Kennedy, Captain John C. Lester and Frank O. McCord, among others, in Pulaski, Tennessee. “The name was derived from the Greek word kylos, meaning ‘circle’. ‘Klan was added for the purpose of alliteration” (“Ku Klux Klan”).
In the South segregation was supported by the Jim Crow laws that made it legal. All public institutions in the South were separated according to skin colour, the ones for blacks being inferior in quality. In the north, where segregation wasn’t imposed by law, the blacks were forced to move into ghettos, because of discrimination by the whites. As well as that, there was also economic inequality. It was much harder for blacks to get a job, and there employment position could be described as ‘the last to be hired, the first to be fired’.
In Harper Lee’s compellingly poignant novel, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ we witness various forms of racism and injustice. As the protagonist, Scout exposes the bigotry present in Maycomb County and what the characters endured because of it, particularly the African Americans. We also observe the discrimination that certain characters, such as Atticus Finch and Mr. Dolphus endure because of the racial stereotypes who couldn’t comprehend their belief for justice for all. Racism in Maycomb was the norm. Most of the people of Maycomb were unjust and ignorant when it came to the most basic rights of the African Americans.
She also uses the narrative technique of flashback to play intricately with perspectives. She raises problems of racism, racial injustice, gender discrimination and loss of innocence. The events of the novel “To kill a mockingbird” take place in the years of the Great Depression in Maycomb, Alabama. Black people were treated badly as people of lower level than white ones. Racial discrimination was running high in the South.
Racism in American pop culture is not new. Black stereotypes in the media started in 1830. A man who went by the name of “Daddy Rice” put on some dusty clothes, (which he had borrowed from a black person) painted his face black and put on a show to the song “Jump Jim Crow”, he did this to humiliate African American people and make them feel less than human. American white society fully accepted and enjoyed these terrible shows. The way Rice characterized blacks was the way mainstream America had thought of blacks all along.
The 1800s, an era of racial prejudice and discrimination, concentrated itself prominently in the southern states. Southern societies lived by the “one-drop rule” where “a person who looks white but has a ‘drop’ of black ‘blood’ is labeled black” (Peel par. 15). In “Desiree’s Baby,” this strict rule allows Armand Aubigny to betray his family when he discovers their black heritage (but, in reality, Aubigny has the black heritage). With the era of discrimination as a setting, Kate Chopin (the author), uses characterization of Armand Aubigny, parallel characters, and irony in “Desiree’s Baby” to convey the theme of how racial prejudice in any form will result in negative outcomes such as broken families.
Discrimination “Discrimination is a hellbound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as the truth in the society dominating them.” (Martin Luther King Jr. speech, Atlanta, Georgia, August 16, 1967) Martin Luther King Jr. was one of many African Americans who endured discrimination throughout their lifetime in America, and later on had his life taken away from him because of it. There are numerous types of discriminations that people make in nearly every part of the world whether it’s racially discriminating or discriminating someone’s sexual preference. It’s been around as long as we have walked this earth and chances are people will still make judgmental generalizations about other human beings until the day the sun burns out. The short stories The Lemon Orchard by Alex La Guma, The Loons by Margaret Laurence, The Day They Burned the Books by Jean Rhys, and The Creation by Maxine Clair, all deal with discrimination in different ways. Racial, and sexual discrimination has been and still is a problem throughout the world whether its considered fair or not, unjust or not, chances are it will be around as long as the human existence.