Premium Essay

Race and Gender in Harper Lee's to Kill a Mockingbird

In:

Submitted By Najme1364
Words 1944
Pages 8
Harper Lee demonstrates the racism of South in the 30's. Tom Robinson's trial represents the racist atmosphere of Maycomb's society. The racial bias of the people of Maycomb makes them blind to see the fact of Tom's innocence and this brings about his murder. Tom's murder echoes Aimé Césaire sarcastic statement in his Et les chiens se taisent, that "in the whole world no poor devil is lynched, no wretch is tortured, in whom I too am not degraded and murdered" (qtd in Black Skin, White Masks 61). Darren Felty in "An Overview of To Kill a Mockingbird", states: "Lee wants to make explicit the consequences of racism. She accomplishes this goal by employing Tom Robinson's trial to allude to different historical events such as the famous 'Scottsboro Boys' trials of the 1930s". According to Felty, in these trials nine black men were accused of raping two white women. Despite a lack of evidence, the men were sentenced to death by the white jury. Unlike Tom, they finally escaped death after a long time (2). Tom Robinson's trial mirrors these historical events to illustrate the racial binarity and segregation that the black people suffered throughout the colonial history. Racial binarity is prevalent in the novel. The narrow-minded people of Maycomb are in favor of segregation in their society and they consider sexual relationship as a threat to their segregation. According to Adam Smykowski in "Symbolism and Racism in To Kill a Mockingbird", For example, "the red geraniums that Mayella Ewell kept in her yard" stand for "Southern white womanhood". Also "the fence that surrounds the Ewells' property", suggests "the fear and racism of the Southern whites that tries to protect this womanhood" (54). Although it is Mayella Ewell who tries to make advances to Tom, the people of Maycomb close their eyes to the fact of Tom's innocence and accuse him of invading this fence. The

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

Race and the South

...Student Name: Lecturer’s Name: Date: Southern Contemporary Fiction and the Issue of Race Thesis: Southern contemporary fiction contained a lot of truths about the race relations between Black and White Americans in the twentieth century. Introduction Since the beginning of the twentieth century, there has been a significant shift in the focus of southern literature, both fiction and nonfiction. In the nineteenth century, most Southern fiction works were mainly on the Civil War and the Reconstruction. However, as that generation died away, the new crop of authors who had never experienced the civil war or the Reconstruction became more objective in their writings about the South. Contemporary Southern writers such as Harper Lee, Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner wrote fiction, but the stories written had a lot of truth about the way communities in the American South lived like in the twentieth century. As a result, one cannot fail but notice that there is one recurring issue in almost every novel in contemporary Southern fiction; the issue of race. (Sundquist 1994) Authors usually write stories which are a reflection of the attitudes and the norms of their time and contemporary Southern fiction reflects this. The southern part of the United States has always had a large percentage of people of African descent living there. At the beginning of the twentieth century, two states actually had an African-American majority; South Carolina and Mississippi...

Words: 2565 - Pages: 11

Premium Essay

To Kill a Mockingbird Review

...Book Review One: To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, was the daughter of a lawyer in the early 1900's. Her father served in the Alabama State Legislature and had defended two black men, a father and a son, at one point in his career. The two men were accused of killing a store owner, who was white. Later on into the case, they were found guilty and were hanged. This incident had apparently affected Harper Lee more than it may seem, for this is very similar to the plot line of her novel. To Kill a Mockingbird is about a lawyer who went against society to defend a black man who was wrongly accused of raping a young white lady. At the time of the novel, blacks were almost always charged with the crimes they were accused of even if they were innocent, and this plot was not any different. Society had turned against the black man, everyone else who was associated with the case and was in favor of the black man. The item that makes this story different from others similar is that it is told by the perspective of the daughter of the defending lawyer. This small difference adds a lot of effect to the book. The fact that a young six year old girl knows that story behind such a high class case is atrocious. Also, this proves that people aren’t born racist. They are taught to be racist through what they see and hear. The girl's father taught his daughter that all people are equal no matter their skin color, race, gender, or age. Therefore, the mere six...

Words: 656 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

How Did Harper Lee Contribute To Society

...I Believe that Harper Lee and Campbell Robertson expressed how people contributed to society back then and now and, Lots of people were bad but the only ones that mattered are the good ones. In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird Many people were racist and had no respect for people that are African American. In Campbell Roberton’s Document “History of Lynching in the South Documents Nearly 4,000 Names” It sums up how brutal these people are. Lots of people in these two Sources have people that contribute to society the bad way. But people like Atticus Finch and Scout are people that do Contribute to society in the Good way. These are the people that respect anyone know matter the race and know matter the gender. Atticus is a man that is helping...

Words: 269 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

To Kill a Mockingbird and the Merchant of Venice

...Stereotypes are saying bad things about someone because they belong in a certain group or race Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird both are based on the theme of stereotypes. In the next 3 paragraphs I will talk about stereotypes in To Kill a Mockingbird, The Merchant of Venice, and finally compare the stereotypes in both. There are many stereotypes and these 2 stories contain many that are alike. One big theme in To Kill a Mockingbird is stereotypes. First of all there is a stereotype that scout should wear a dress and act more like a girl because she is a tomboy. Aunt Alexandra says this. “Aunt Alexandra was fanatical on the subject of my attire. I could not possibly hope to be a lady if I wore breeches”(81). This shows that Aunt Alexandra wants Scout to be more like a lady. Secondly there’s Tom Robinson who is black and wrongly accused. Tom was accused of raping Mayella Ewell and in the end the jury voted him guilty even though Atticus explains the evidence is in Tom’s favor “To begin with, this case should have never come to trial”(203). This quote shows that Atticus’s evidence is perfectly clear and Tom isn’t guilty but in the end because Tom is black the jury assumes he is bad and votes him guilty. Finally black people don’t have the same rights as white people. For example Calpurnia brings Scout and Jem to church and a lady gets mad and asked Calpurnia why she brought white kids to the black church day. “I wants to know why you...

Words: 861 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

To Kill A Mockingbird Injustice Analysis

...Injustice is defined as “the lack of fairness or justice”, while boundaries are physical or social limitations which can lead to unfairness. For example, Harper Lee’s not-so talked about character, Tom Robinson faces a huge injustice in chapter 21 of To Kill a Mockingbird: He’s found guilty of raping Mayella Ewell. In The Untold Story of Emmett Till, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam are found not guilty of the murder of Emmett Till even though there is some pretty damning evidence against them. In A Bronzeville Mother Loiters in Mississippi. Meanwhile, a Mississippi Mother Burns Bacon, Carolyn Bryant’s home life is riddled with little gender boundaries. The difference between boundaries and injustice aren't that different from each other when living down South. Being Black in the South, especially in Alabama, in 1935 is bad enough, but when you throw being accused of raping a White woman on top of it you’re already dead. Tom Robinson’s verdict is one of the biggest disappointments in the book, even though it’s known from the get-go. The jury chooses Bob and Mayella Ewell’s word over Tom’s even though they are seen as the scourge of the town, as implied when Atticus Finch tries to sell his...

Words: 526 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Racism In Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird

...The book that I chose to read is by Harper Lee, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’ The novel’s setting features the Deep South and envelops an intense portrayal of prejudice and race narrated through a little girl’s eyes. Filled with impressive evocations of American life at the peak of the Great Depression that shook the nation in the 1930s, whilst also underpinned by caring and moral susceptibility, the novel proofs as both an excellent rendering of a particular place and time as well as an all-inclusive tale of how old and wicked perceptions can be triumphed by understanding. It was published by J.B Lippincott in New York in 1960 (Topham, 2018). ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ has received both positive and negative feedbacks from a wide audience of readers. However, over the past few decades, the book has been challenged by most learning institutions as well as readers which have led to its ban and censorship from several learning institutions. The objective of this paper is to establish why the book has been challenged. As a classic novel, Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ received the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. Although it has been considered a classic literature by several readers, the novel still remains in the top list of the banned books. The novel’s profanity, racial content, and its references to rape have provoked many...

Words: 1053 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Atticus Finch Trial

...To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a chilling historical fiction novel that centers around the trial of an innocent black man who is accused of raping a white woman. The novel is set in Alabama during the 1930s, and it follows an old lawyer and his family in the small town of Maycomb. Atticus Finch, the lawyer and father, is often called upon by the town for help due to his stature. He is level headed and focuses on the belief that everybody deserves to be treated equally. It is this belief that leads him to being chosen to represent Tom Robinson, the accused black man, in court. Because To Kill a Mockingbird is set in Alabama during the 1930s, the odds that he will be found innocent are exceptionally low, so Atticus must do everything...

Words: 1077 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Boo Radley In To Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee

...In the book To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee uses Boo Radley as a symbol of misjudgments and superstitions. Throughout the beginning of the book Boo Radley has been seen as a person who hides himself and has no friends at all, he is considered as a dangerous person. However due to the curiosity from 3 kids, the hunt to discover what type of person Boo Radley is, begins. Boo Radley tries befriending the children in his own type of way, by placing small little things, as to what might resemble Boo Radley’s personality, inside a knothole of an oak tree. Some of the things he gave shows that Boo Radley is a man who is well-educated, due to the fact he won a spelling bee. However Boo Radley is antisocial, yet he would go as far as to protect children, and would not stab his parents, although it was not particularly proven whether he did or did not....

Words: 577 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

How Does Mayella Ewell Use Power In To Kill A Mockingbird

...them weak. In Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, she shows how power can be used in different ways of controlling people. Mayella Ewell is able to show power against Tom Robinson through gender, class and race. Mayella is able to use her gender to help defend her against Tom using the power of Macomb County. The whites were in more power when the, “Southerners continued to use racism as a tool for re-election, scaring their constituents by claiming that ‘white womanhood’ was endangered by the loss of states' rights to control the blacks of the South”(Tafari 6). Southerners were using “white womanhood” as power against the blacks. Tom gave Mayella power when he says, “‘Yes, suh. I felt right sorry for her, she seemed to try more’n the rest of ‘em—’”(Lee E). Tom Robinson said that he was sorry for her. His apology gave Mayella more power because a man should never be sorry for her. Tom being sorry gave the entire jury power against him in favor of Mayella. The power of Maycomb County favored Mayella Ewell during the trial because of...

Words: 615 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Declaration Of Independence Rhetorical Analysis

...States. When it was first written, the statement that “all men are created equal” was certainly not in accordance with reality. However, over time, there have been significant and ongoing efforts towards creating equality for all people. Although many argue that the United States of America has made little progress in fulfilling the promises of its Declaration of Independence because of ongoing issues with racial, gender-based, and religious discrimination, they fail to consider that the U.S. has consistently been one of the most...

Words: 1650 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay

To Kill A Mockingbird Argumentative Essay

...To Kill A Mockingbird Argumentative Essay Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is the story of a man who took a stand when no one else would. The book takes place in the 1930s and is about an integrative lawyer named Atticus Finch and his two children Scout and Jem who face difficulties when Atticus has to take a case for a colored man. Many people are upset when Atticus actually defends him because most lawyers would not try to defend a black person due to race. By taking this case, Atticus potentially puts his family in danger because of a careless man named Bob Ewell who is out to get Atticus and his family because he thinks the colored man, Tom Robinson, raped his daughter Mayella. Even though Atticus knows he won’t win this case, he still tries, and that shows how he has integrity. This is how it makes...

Words: 929 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

Antigone and to Kill a Mockingbird

...“ To kill a mockingbird” by Harper Lee and “Antigone” by Sophocles are both dramas having to do with justice, the main characters in both dramas are struggling to bring justice to a society or situation that was lacking. In Sophocles’ drama, Antigone was trying to bring justice by burying her brother Polyneices against the kings, Creon’s, orders. While in “To kill a mocking bird” Atticus is an attorney in a case where race is a major issue and he is trying to save Tom Robinson from being convicted of a crime where there’s overwhelming evidence of his innocence. Both “Antigone” and “To kill a mockingbird’s” themes seem to revolve around justice which is proven when Antigone buries her brother and Atticus agrees to take on Tom Robinsons case. Another large theme in both dramas is the idea that women are somehow ‘lesser’ because of their femininity, a cause of this might be because of the era that the dramas are set in. Throughout “To kill a mockingbird” Scout does her best to avoid ‘girly’ things so that she can keep playing with her brother Jem, its only later in the novel that Scout begins to realize that being a girl is more about having positive traits than lacking them. This theme continues in “Antigone”, most pointedly when Ismene states “Bethink thee, sister, we are left alone; Shall we not perish wretchedness of all, If in defiance of the law we cross A monarch's will?--weak women, think of that, Not framed by nature to contend with men. Remember this too that the stronger...

Words: 2326 - Pages: 10

Premium Essay

Discrimination In To Kill A Mockingbird

...saturate our society in modern ways. Though racism may be less blatant now in many cases, its existence is undeniable” While Sharpton claims we have come a long way in regard to prejudice of blacks, in the 1930s many blacks and whites who opposed the segregation of blacks felt the hatred produced by white southerners. In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, it is obvious that there are many issues in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama. In a time where segregation was more common than ever, many southerners began to form bias opinions towards African Americans. This unjust judgment of different...

Words: 1452 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Tom Robinson Trial In To Kill A Mockingbird

...the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, the author Harper Lee criticizes the society of the fictional town known as Maycomb for many issues that still occur today. One societal issue that this novel highlights is racism, specifically with the trial of Tom Robinson, who was wrongfully accused and convicted of rape. Harper Lee also examines other, just as important topics to society. The novel takes place in mainly one town in Alabama known as Maycomb during the Great Depression where finding a job is increasingly difficult. Although fictional, it accurately...

Words: 1610 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay

How Did Kurt Cobain Changed In The 1990s

...with the activities of notable greats like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spearheading the March on Washington, supporting the sit-ins at lunch counters in demanding an end to racial discrimination among many other acts of civil disobedience caused a huge uproar in the country. President Kennedy was assassinated and so was Dr. King in very short time span to each other. The discord in the country sowed the seeds to the hippie movement where young people also called “flower children” embraced cultural differences that they reflected in their dress, music and liberal use of drugs. This was a period of affluence. Most of the U.S. population was young. They were the baby boomers who were coming of age. Color tv was born. Harper Lee published To Kill a Mockingbird. The Beatles music was played everywhere. The first man landed on the moon. The 1970s gave women’s rights a huge boost so women started entering the workforce in droves. This was the time of the bell-bottom pants and disco music in the dancehalls. Atari released its first video game. People questioned government actions. The 1980s saw the greatest explosion of illegal drugs. The crack-cocaine epidemic decimated the minority communities as many of the young male users ended up in prison on long sentences. The 1990s saw a period of hope and smaller government with President Reagan. The Berlin Wall came down. “They laugh at me because I’m different; I laugh at them because they’re all the same” - a quote from the late...

Words: 1396 - Pages: 6