Racism in To Kill a Mockingbird
Racism is highly portrayed in the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. In the novel, Lee demonstrates the racial discrimination in the southern parts of the United States in the 1930s. The novel revolves around a lawyer by the name Atticus Finch who tries to help an African-American against charges of rape that were made against him. Scout Finch who is a daughter to the renowned lawyer Atticus Finch is the author of the novel. As the novel progresses, Scout Finch and her brother are nearly murdered because of their father’s defense of Tom Robinson who was accused of raping a white woman. Racism is depicted throughout the novel and will be discussed below.
How racism is portrayed in the novel
First, the white characters in the novel had no connection to the black characters. This is evident where the Atticus tries to help a black American that was an unusual and rare incident back in the Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930s where the environment of the novel was situated. African-Americans were treated as though they felt different from the white folks. The reverent is noted saying that he had never seen a Negro obtaining favor in front of a jury (Lee, p23). This is pure evidence of how blacks were discriminated and denied their civil rights.
In the novel, racial prejudice has also been portrayed through dialog of the white characters in the novel. The word “nigger” has been used in many areas by different characters especially the white characters and this symbolizes their racial prejudice against black folks. For instance, at the church, Calpurnia calls Lula a “nigger” expressing his racial attitudes towards him (Lee, p76). Harper Lee uses the words ‘nigger” and “colored” to portray the extent of racial discrimination in the Maycomb community in the 1930s.
In addition, blacks in the novel were perceived as liars and immoral people. This formed the misconception that the white characters in the novel had against the black folks. For instance, Scouts asks her father, “why are you defending him?” implying that Scout already thought that Tom Robinson had committed the crime even before the trial was heard (Lee p56). This misconception depicts a concise picture of how the white people viewed the black people in the novel. Blacks were perceived to be evil and they were not given a chance to be heard to the jury. Harper Lee also describes this condition as” the disease of Maycomb”.
There was a great animosity between the white and black characters in the novel. This hate is clearly depicted where Calpurnia develops hatred towards Atticus for defending Tom Robinson in court. This hatred is also expressed when Cunninghams tries to lynch Tom. Racial prejudice was the basis of the hatred towards the two ethnic groups.
Harper Lee used Atticus Finch to be the savior of a black person who was already on the verge of being accused with very heavy charges. Her use of a non-black person to save a black person indicated the need to end the racial prejudice that had its grown in the Maycomb community in the 1930s. As indicated above, it is clear that theme of racial discrimination was largely portrayed in the novel. Thus, it can be concluded that African-Americans were discriminated and denied their civil rights in the novel. It can also be noted that there was general negative perception of black people in the Maycomb community during the 1930s.
Lee, H., To Kill a Mockingbird. Narcissus publisher. 2015, Print