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In our novel, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, our characters face very many problems with human inequality and divisions within the human society. The title has very little significance and relation to the story, but the mockingbird represents the innocence we see in some of our characters. In our book, Atticus states that killing a mockingbird is to destroy innocence. Throughout our book, there are many characters that could assume the role of the mockingbird. Tom Robinson for example, could be considered our mockingbird, because even though he was innocent, he was destroyed by the evil and racism brought upon him. Our story takes place in Maycomb county, a small, fictional town in Alabama. Our time period is 1930’s, in the middle of the Great Depression.
Although slavery had ended, segregation along with racism was still very much prominent. The consequences bestowed upon Tom Robinson is a prime example of the hostility towards not only Tom himself, but all African Americans. The most infamous form of discrimination in our story is racism. However, there are several more forms of discrimination, societal divisions, and reverse racism that coexist in the story. For example, Scout is criticized for conveying her tomboy appearance, Dill is judged for not having a father, and despite anyone genuinely knowing Boo Radley, he is faced with several assumptions made by the town.
The most conspicuous form of human inequality in the story is certainly racism. For instance, Tom Robinson had an almost assured loss at his trial solely because of his skin color. Atticus explains to Uncle Jack that no matter how much evidence is provided in defense of Tom, the jury is not likely to believe Toms word over Mayella and Bobs. Atticus believes winning Tom Robinson’s case is almost impossible, as he states in the book, due to the prevalent racism in their town. In chapter 9, Scout asks Atticus if Tom has a chance at winning his trial, and Atticus replies with “No honey”. Scout proceeds to ask why Tom is even trying, and Atticus tells her that “Even though we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try and win”. He is making it clear to Scout that even when you see defeat in your future, you must still try.However, it is clear to Atticus that the jury will not believe Tom’s testimony, for the reason that Tom is an African American.
In addition to racism, we see discrimination in the wealthy and poor white people. The wealthier people of Maycomb have deemed the less fortunate to be less valuable than they are. For example, in Scouts class, Walter Cunningham is considered to be less than, because he is a Cunningham, and they are known simply for being poor and in the lowest class. Scouts teacher, Miss Caroline, offers her student, Walter, some money. After Walter refuses to take the money, Scout proceeds to inform Miss Caroline that Walter and his family suffer from extreme poverty, and often don’t borrow if they can’t return. This inequality makes them out to act less like the upper class individuals and families. The caste system that Walter and his family fall under automatically make them feel lesser than, which would eventually over time make them fall under the stereotype that the town of Maycomb is putting them in. Being in the lower class and being discriminated for it could also determine the will for someone’s efforts and the motivation to try harder.
Finally, we see different forms of discrimination against both genders in all age groups. In this time period, women were not considered equal to men, and women were expected to do and act in such ways. An example from our story would be the way Aunt Alexandra treats Scout. Alexandra is very familiar with lady-like attributes. Alexandra is very proper, and believes Scout doesn’t act like a lady should. Alexandra’s goal is to make Scout look and behave in such a way she believes is socially acceptable. She believes Scout needs to start wearing dresses, not shorts, and confronts Scout on being too boyish, which Scout doesn’t have a problem being. When Scout is informed of Aunt Alexandra’s arrival and her plans to stay, she states “I felt the starched walls of a pink cotton penitentiary closing in on me, and for the second time in my life, I thought of running away immediately”. This shows Scouts demise towards her lack of favor for her feminine side. As time passes in the novel, Alexandra hosts her Missionary Society meeting which contains some of her prim and proper friends.
At first, Scout helps Calpurnia serve the ladies. Eventually however, Alexandra asks Scout to sit down, have a seat, and join the ladies for their discussion. Scout claims this is “part of her campaign to teach me to be lady”. Another example of discrimination against women, is after the jury convicts Tom Robinson. Jem questions why good people like Miss Maudie and others can’t serve on the jury. Atticus explains to Jem that Miss Maudie cannot serve because she is a woman. This instance reveals the discrimination against genders.
During these troubled times; the Great Depression, discrimination and racism, certain people from every race and gender suffered. This novel helps us put into perspective and bring light to what was endured in past times. The novel puts into example just what happens when racism is taken to an extreme; for instance, Tom Robinson’s circumstances. Not only racism, but discrimination like that of which Boo Radley experienced. The value of social worth and class is made extremely explicit in this novel. The matter of racism, discrimination, and dimensions of inequality are therefore very distinct. Although the use of these actions serve a great importance in our novel, the greater lesson shows us the behaviours that are now greatly unacceptable, were once deemed acceptable from particular individuals in a certain time and place.
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