Historical Influences On To Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee

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Historical Influences on To Kill a Mockingbird

During the 1930’s, there were many changes taking place in the United States. Segregation was still a dominant obstacle, and the economy took a sharp downfall. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee uses real-life occurrences to build the background for her story. There are many correlations between the Jim Crow laws, mob mentality, and the Scottsboro trials in the book.

One way To Kill a Mockingbird is associated with the course of America’s history is with the establishment of the Jim Crow Laws. The Jim Crow laws were a series of rules created to promote the segregation of black people, and to keep anti-Black racism alive. The Jim Crow laws prevented black people from interacting with white
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Mob mentality is a term used to describe the unique behavioral characteristics that emerge when people are in large groups (Smith 1). These actions can be violent, and it is not always clear what the motivation is at the time of execution. An event that involved a mob was the lynching that occurred on August 6, 1930. People who were at the lynching recall not completely know what was happening at the time of the lynching; though it was evident something was wrong (“Strange Fruit: Anniversary of a Lynching”). In the photograph that was taken at the time of the lynching, there were a large number of people who did not seem to be very concerned that there are two people hanging dead from a tree (Beitler). This shows it might be a common occurrence, and it is not a big deal because they are black teenagers. Along with that, it is stated that typically, if people are in a group, they are more likely to act a certain way and feel the consequences are not the same as they would be is they were alone (Smith 1). In the case of lynching, the fact that it was done as a group contributes to the way they were involved because if they each were asked individually, they probably would not participated on their own. In To Kill a Mockingbird, there are two instances where the characters encounter a group of people with a mob mentality. The first group gathers at …show more content…
The Scottsboro Trial was a trial of nine black teenage boys, with two white women claiming they raped them. The boys were traveling on the same train as the two women, but that is the only true source of evidence that would link them to a crime at all. The women essentially made this claim because they were prostitutes crossing the state boarder illegally, so to avoid getting in trouble they pinned a crime to the boys. There was never a clear indication of rape, even after a doctor evaluation. These nine boys were convicted because they were black, although all evidence pointed toward their innocence (Anderson). After further evaluation in the courthouse, this is also the case with Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird. In the beginning, it looks like Atticus has no chance at defending Tom, but once he shows his side of the case the odds change. In the end Tom is faced guilty of the rape of Mayella Ewell, but with Atticus’s analysis of the trial, the spectator’s eyes are opened. The Scottsboro boys and Tom Robinson bother were convicted despite no proper evidence supporting their guilt, each with a one-day case, both accused by white women, and both with an all white jury. The trials were unfair, but they also changed the standards for future cases and shined a bit of light on the inequality towards different

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