Harper Lee shows the racist social values that most of the inhabitants of Maycomb County follow are one of the factors that cause Atticus Finch’s defense to fail. In Maycomb, hating black people is a never-ending trend. Even though almost everyone follows it, Atticus does not. He is one of the only characters in the novel that has good social values and does not judge one by his or her skin colour. Although he has a feeling that he is not going to win the case, he still does the right thing by
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”. This quote reveals that Atticus is mainly focusing on the racial aspect of prejudice as it is the most dominant form of prejudice in TKAM. As well as showing that he understands the ethic of empathy and understanding, that he preaches to Scout and Jem. Atticus also proves how the people of Maycomb do not understand Negros as they have not experienced the abuse that comes with the colour of your skin. In the novel there is also the aspect of classism in prejudice with the hierarchy of families being instilled into the society of Maycomb.
Sargent Shriver once stated,” The roots of racism lie deep in man’s nature, wounded and bruised by original sin.” So if racism is deeply embedded into “men”, wouldn’t women have the power to undo this sin? In How to Kill a Mockingbird, Calpernia Tate and Lola are two feminine representatives contributing to black rights. Lula’s sense of loyalty is admirable although futile due to her abhorrent tone, enraging white society more than impressing them. While, Calpurnia’s rational approach emphasizes the equity between the white and black races. Showcasing intelligence, manners, and loyalty: Calpernia portrays the perfect black representative, revealing the humanity Negros.
Although the end of the American civil war marked the end of slavery for African Americans, it did not mark their acceptance and equality with white people. Many southern states resented losing their slaves and were determined to keep African Americans as second class citizens. In 1950 segregation was in full force, meaning African Americans had separate churches, public transport, theatres, schools, hotels, swimming pools and many other facilities to white people. Segregation also applied to where people lived, so African Americans could only live in certain areas separate from white people, with these areas being much worse than the white suburbs, despite the separate but equal principle. Even when this was challenged in the Plessy vs Ferguson Supreme Court case the separate but equal principle was found to be constitutional.
Another thing portrayed prejudice in the novel, is the way whites talk to blacks. "I said come here nigger, and bust up this chiffarobe for me, I gotta nickel for you”(Lee241). Referring to an African American as a "nigger" is completely disrespectful and making them seem like they are lower than the whites are, which is not the case. No person wants to be spoken to in that manner, white or black. This word is used immensely throughout the novel, especially during the trial.
Segregation After the civil war in the USA, the African Americans gain “equal” rights. But the 14th amendment in 1868 (Absolute equality of the two races before the law) didn’t include “social rights” which meant that they didn’t get much choices in society, like choosing where you wanted to sit on a bus. This still made the African Americans feel inferior, knowing that within their home town the “whites” had the choices, and actual freedom. Blacks responded to their situation in 4 ways as their situation began to worsen from 1877. They would co-operate with any willing whites, migrate to the North or West, protest politically and would follow accommodationism.
As his character develops in the novel, he comes across as calm, empathetic and nonjudgmental. He also is one of the few who can see things from another’s point of view. In the 1930s in America, racism was a big issue based on discrimination against black people. Most white people, in the novel discriminate against the black people because they fail to see life from their point of view. 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.
People aren't willing to accept change and theirs not much you can do in the 1930's to change that because it was "sociality acceptable" not to. Racism was given to its full potential in this novel by displaying that of Tom Robinson being charged on a crime that he did not commit. He is accused of raping a white women by one of the most untrustworthy people in the town. This was just another accusation in this time but ended as most did, with the wrong outcome chosen because of social inequality. Differences in social status are explored largely through the overcomplicated social status.
Most of the people of Maycomb were unjust and ignorant when it came to the most basic rights of the African Americans. "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy,…Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit them, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.”(Page 98 Atticus) This citation is the focal point of the novel. Tom Robinson, a black man who did no wrong, as all evidence proved yet he was still found guilty. Atticus Finch was one of a few who believed in ‘justice for all’. Atticus was mocked and shunned for defending a black man yet he never retaliated.
During the time period in which the story takes place, black people were not considered equal to white people and were treated horribly as if they were weak and naive. Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, describes the racism and prejudice towards black people and how she makes a good diction against it. The black people in the novel are strong-willed for not succumbing to white people for they have their own volition. They are treated like they are naive or ignorant but they have their own intelligence and experiences that proves their strength. Everybody deserves the same justice that everyone else is given in a court of law, no matter if someone is better than them.