In the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” the theme is discrimination. Harper Lee shows discrimination not just between two races, but between people just because of their reputation. She displays that discriminating people no matter what is not right, because you don’t know what kind of person they are; you are judging them by the things you hear and the color of their skin. In “To Kill a Mockingbird”, author Harper Lee uses memorable characters to relate to the racism and discrimination of the 1930s. The setting of the story is set in the 1930s in Maycomb, Alabama.
The most obvious form of discrimination in “To Kill a Mockingbird” is racism; however, there are other types of prejudice and discrimination that are shown in the relationships among the novel’s characters. Scout, for example, is ridiculed in “To Kill a Mockingbird” because she is a tomboy. Boo Radley is ostracized despite the fact that hardly anyone knows him. Tom Robinson a negro man who is accused by a white female of rape and is convicted by an all white jury. Reverse racism is also present in the novel, towards Atticus Finch and his family as he defends Tom Robinson.
Scout and Jem were both discriminated against when they attended Calpurnia’s African American church. .. The narrator Jean Louise Finch, nicknamed Scout, in Lee’s novel” To Kill a Mockingbird”, is an innocent character. Scout is raised by her widowed father Atticus Finch, her brother Jem Finch and their black maid Calpurnia. Since she was raised primarily by Calpurnia and Atticus she sees many issues of racism. Scout possesses a wide range of traits, which goes under an extreme transformation, as she matures in the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Scout has three main qualities of her personality.
She displays curiosity, courage, and a love of reading throughout the novel. Scout’s curiosity is revealed through questions she asks her father to understand what things mean in life. Although Scout’s personality defines who she is she throughout the novel she is constantly discriminated against because she is a tomboy, she is not the typical little girl. Her Aunt Alexandra constantly tries to break Scout’s tomboy image into a proper young lady of society. Sometimes her brother Jem criticizes her for “acting like a girl,”(Pg. 45) other times he complains that she’s not girlish enough.
Many of the boys at school are intimidated by her physical strength, yet she is constantly reminded she must learn to handle herself in a ladylike way. On her first day of school Scout gets into a fight with Walter Cunningham rubbing his nose in the dirt at lunch time (Pg. 25). Another example of Scout being discriminated was when she and Jem accompanied Calpurnia to her church. A friend of Calpurnia named Lula asked Calpurnia “I wants to know why you bringin’ white chillun to nigger church? ”(Pg 135). Calpurnia stood up for Scout and Jem in that her church to Lula.
The Reverend accepted both of the children into the church with open arms regardless of the color of the skin. Boo Radley (Arthur) is more quiet character. He hides inside of the safety of his house. Boo displays many different personality traits, such as innocence, strength, clever, being courageous and at times scary. Boo is innocent since he never leaves his house in Maycomb. Courageous is a trait Boo has for the fact that he knows if he would leave his house the town people would be all over him with curiosity about see what he truly looks like.
Boo in the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” has many rumors that are spread about him from many different town fold. He is discriminated from the whole town due to his lack of being more open to his coming out of his house An example of the rumors spread bout Boo was that “he went out at night when the moon was down, and peeped in windows” (pg. 9). “Any stealthy small crimes committed in Maycomb were his work” (pg. 9). Miss Stephanie Crawford a woman in the town of Maycomb said “she woke up in the middle of the night one time and saw him looking straight through the window at her…. aid head was like a skull lookin’ at her” (Pg. 9) Even Jem had his own description of Boo Radley. Jem told Dill “Boo was about a six-foot and –a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that’s why his hands were blood stained—if you ate an animal raw, you could never wash the blood off. There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten, his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time”. (Pg. 9) The children Scout, Jem and Dill would make up a game that they would play Boo and the rest of the Radley family.
The whole entire town of Maycomb constantly discriminates against Boo, though no one ever saw him and no one really knew his life or the past of his life they base everything on the rumors they have heard. Another rumor spread by Miss Stephanie said “Boo was sitting in the living room cutting some items from The Maycomb Tribune to paste in his scrapbook. His father entered the room. As Mr. Radley passed by, Boo drove the scissors into his parent’s leg, pulled them out, wiped them clean on his pants, and resumed his activities” (Pg. 9). This rumor and the Mr.
Radley running around the street claiming Arthur was trying to kill them all didn’t help Boo and the discrimination towards him. Although Boo never came outside he manages to obtain a friendship subtlety with Scout and Jem by living random items in the tree by his yard that the kids find and keep in a box. This little secret of him shows one trait of his personality of him being clever. He was able to cleverly interact with the children until his brother cemented the hole up that he randomly placed items for the children to find. Boo displays bravery when he fights Mr.
Bob Ewell when he attacks Scout and Jem because of Atticus’s displaying him and his daughter as liars in front of the whole town and the jury in the courthouse. Boo struggles with Ewell and stabbed him in the side and killed him. Boo a young innocent creature who kept to himself in the beginning of the novel grew into a young protective man who left the safety of his own home and hid from the eyes of the discriminating society to protect his new found friends. In Maycomb in the 1930’s racism was nothing out of the normal. In many cases dealing with blacks the judges blamed the blacks for any crimes they may or may not have done.
An extreme example of this discrimination and racism is the trial of Tom Robinson. Tom Robinson was black farmer who lived in Maycomb Alabama. Robinson was a young black man that was a farmer and did little odds and ends around time for people. Mayellis a white woman hired Mr. Robinson to do some petty work around her farm. Mayella claims that Mr. Robinson attacked her and raped her. Although one of Mr. Robinson’s arm is completely unusable he goes to trial for the rape of her. Mr. Robinson’s case was the biggest thing to hit the town of Maycomb. Even though Mr.
Atticus Finch was his defense lawyer and he was able to prove that both Mayella and her father were guilty and they were both were lying it did not help Mr. Robinson. The jury consisted of all white members; they only took two hours to deliberate. Within those two hours they found Tom guilty. They did not look at the evidence instead they looked at the color of his skin. While awaiting a second trial Tom could no longer handle it and tried to escape and in return was shot and killed before they could appeal the case. Mr. Robinson’s case was a prime example of the discrimination and racism during the novel.
Mr. Atticus Finch deals with a reverse racism in the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Atticus Finch is a widowed man that raises two children Scout and Jem. Atticus is a central character in the novel. Mr. Finch is a different kind of character; he is brutally honest with everyone and everything. He goes to great pains to instruct his children on the importance of being open-minded, judicious, generous neighbors and citizens. He brings up his children the way he sees right. Atticus sees past a man’s color and looks into the depth of his character.
In the beginning of the novel, he tells Scout “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it. ”(Pg. 33) Atticus though very kind to everyone around him and more than happy to lend a hand still has to deal with reverse racism. Atticus was asked to take on a case that he knew deep down would never go in his direction but he decided to take this case. He knew deep down that he would never be able to forgive himself he didn’t do this. So Atticus took on the case for Mr. Tom Robinson a black man accused of rape of a white woman.
Throughout the trial he has seen that Mayella and Mr. Ewell lied the whole entire time. They were wrongfully accusing a man only because of the color of his skin. Once the town seen that Mr. Atticus actually believed Tom Robinson. Since the whole entire town is racist they took this an offense. Especially Mr. Ewell he took great offense of this. He was extremely upset that Mr. Atticus made him and his daughter look like a liar in front of the entire town. As revenge on Mr. Atticus he follows his children around and attacks them. If it wasn’t for Boo they would have died.
Throughout this novel we have learned all the different types of discrimination and racism and have seen many examples of it. Many might think that racism is just directed to a certain race especially in the 1930’s unfortunately we have learned that does not pertain to The Finch family in “To Kill a Mockingbird”. This novel has put a great insight into many minds that have read this classic novel. Source Citation: Ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter.. ” To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee” Vol. 194. Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2005. p81-149 Literary Criticism Online Lincoln Land Community College. 8June 2010 Source Citation: “Harper Lee (1926-). ” Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Dedria Bryfonski and Gerald J. Senick. Vol. 12. Detroit: Gale Research, 1980. 340-343. Literature Criticism Online. Gale. Lincoln Land Community College. 27 June 2010 Text Citation: Sova, Dawn B. “To Kill a Mockingbird. ” Banned Books: Literature Suppressed on Social Grounds, Revised Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc. , 2006. Bloom’s Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www. fofweb. com/activelink2. asp? ItemID=WE54=5= BBSO0209=True (accessed June28, 2010).