The Topic of Racism in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: An Essay Sample

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The novel To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee belongs to the classic American literature. The story unfolds in a small town in the south during the years of the Great Depression. The book deals with such important themes as racism, bravery, injustice, ignorance, and morality among others.

Racism as the Central Theme

Racism is the central theme that is used to show the outcomes of the existing ideology. In the book, racism is the root of all the existing tensions and the unfavorable living conditions prevailing in the town. Racism is evident in the attitude of the citizens to the Afro-Americans and the process of their interaction.

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The Setting of the Story

The town of Maycomb exudes the ugliness and negativity of racism inherent in the American society. At that time, the Great Depression was a kind of a transitional period from the prosperity and luxury of the roaring twenties and the upcoming Second World War. The Afro-Americans had almost no rights in the society as compared with the Whites: no right to vote, no freedom of speech. They could not get high-quality services and were often humiliated, etc.

Examples of Racism in the Text

1. Scout goes to the church with Calpurnia and asks her afterwards if he could come with her to her place. Although Calpurnia agrees, Scout is forbidden to come to her place as her Aunt Alexandra frowns upon him and views it as totally unacceptable.

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2. Jem and Scout are ignorant why Calpurnia speaks in a particular way, although she is aware that it’s wrong. It is really difficult for her to explain the situation as their outlook on the surrounding situation differs much.

3. Mr. Raymond provides an insight into what’s going on in Maycomb by explaining one of the situations to Dill and Scout. Raymond pretends to be drunk in order to get a pass to marry a black woman and have children.

4. Tom Robinson is proved to be guilty of rape because he is black (Mayella Ewell is white and is the one to accuse him). Despite the existence of the other pieces of evidence that proved his innocence, Tom Robinson is sentenced anyway.

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From the abovementioned facts, it is evident that the novel unveils numerous manifestations of how the Afro-Americans suffered during the times the story takes place. They were viewed as dishonest, dangerous, and violent. They were treated unfairly and with suspicion. It was very hard to get rid of those beliefs regarding the blacks. Children were brought up in such a hostile environment towards the Afro-Americans. Consequently, this treatment was passed on to other generations. No wonder that the book is so widely read. It demonstrates the problems that can be caused by such a hostile treatment and teaches to avoid similar cases in the future.

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