Racism In Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird

1841 Words 8 Pages
Racism is alive and well in America today. Various incidents come to mind when pointing to the injustices and inequality in our society, such as the disproportionate incarnation rates of African Americans and the socioeconomic hurdles that many minorities in America still face today. Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird provides valuable insight into our present day society dealing with the topic of racism, especially by giving us examples of the historical mistreatment of those outside of the majority race. The examples of a stratified social hierarchy present within Lee’s novel can further give us knowledge on how our current society is structured and how we can better improve it in the future. Lee powerfully explains how racism can taint justice …show more content…
Lee shows us that racist societies adopt flawed justice systems that destroys the equality of all. Several notable events in the novel support this theme, such as Mr. Gilmore’s treatment of Tom Robinson, Atticus’s choice in defending Tom Robinson, Mr. Underwood’s remark about Mayella, and Atticus’s comment on the innocence of mockingbirds. The theme of a flawed justice system is even present in the onset of Tom Robinson’s case, as shown through Miss Maudie when she says, “Atticus had to, whether he wanted to or not… Atticus aimed to defend him. That’s what [Maycomb] didn’t like about it” (Lee 163). This passage underscores that Atticus had to defend Tom Robinson, but Maycomb did not appreciate that he was both passionate about the case and willing to fight for Robinson’s innocence. It can be inferred, therefore, that racism in Maycomb was divided even to the point where it extended to the defense of black people in court, showing the unfairness of the justice system in the time period. Relating to this, Atticus, in chapter 9, tells Scout that he “could never ask you to mind me again” for the explanation as to why he took Tom Robinson’s case (Lee 76). The fact that Atticus needs to justify why he chose to defend …show more content…
This is seen clearly with Lula, a member of Calpurnia’s church, when she reprimands Calpurnia for bringing “white chillun” to the First Purchase, an all-black church in Maycomb. Her reasoning is that white people have their own church, and black people have their own as well, and mixing should not occur. Jem and Scout instantly feel as if they are not welcome to the church, and they both agree that they should leave whenever possible (Lee 119). This shows that Maycomb is highly segregated, and it also shows that instant presumptions are made of the other race when each interacts with one another. Even worshiping the same God, as Calpurnia later notes, is segregated along racial lines because of false presumptions of others. Another example of false racial presumptions is when Tom Robinson, during the court case, explains how he took pity on Mayella when she was struggling with her chores. Mr. Gilmore instantly critisizes Tom Robinson when he says that, playing into the false presumptions of the crowd gathered at the courthouse (Lee 197). Tom Robinson’s “blunder” was that he, as a black person, is not supposed to feel sorry for those with white skin, a racial presumption deeply ingrained in Maycomb’s society. Mr. Dolphus Raymond, too, explains how this unfair treatment based on racial suppositions is sad to

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