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


Submitted By Najme1364
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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

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