"To Kill a Mockingbird" is a book by Harper Lee, which was first published in 1960. The author lived during a civil rights movement era. During this period, there were high racial tensions especially in the south where Lee resided. She is a white female writer who was anti-racism. It is through the experience she had and what she saw that inspired her to write the novel. The aim of the novel was to highlight some of the challenges that blacks faced at the height of racism and civil wars. However, she is also informing the audience that despite the looming racism, there was a section of the white population that detested it and chose to treat other races differently.
Race is a societal issue that has continued to affect families and slowed down developmental. It is considered a state of the mind that makes a certain kind of people to feel superior to others due to their skin color. There are certain stereotypes that are associated with certain races which has made them to be discriminated against the years. It is mainly such attitudes that make racism a big issue to deal with. Racial segregation has been synonymous with united states and mostly during the civil wars. Blacks were mostly discriminated against simply because they have a slavery origin. The fact that their forefathers were bought as property to help the natives fulfill their economic goals makes them least respected and appreciated (Lee 21).
Their slave titles made the whites look at them as people who cannot amount to anything valuable. Their work was to given directions and to work as machines with no hope of remuneration or protection. In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, the author takes us through some of the negative treatment that the blacks had to face just because of their race. Their innocence was abused as those who prosecuted them falsely went out free. They were no sense of remorse to the innocent blacks who never did anything to annoy the whites. It is in fact their need to maintain their moral standing that landed them into trouble. In this paper, we shall be focusing on the novel and how race has been treated. We shall be focusing on various characters of the novel as we relate to their roles and responsibilities.
The society is usually composed of different categories of people. There are those who are referred to us the natives or the real owners of the land. There are also those who are absorbed into the community through migration. This may be with the sole purpose of earning a living or just looking for a better place to be. Others may also be part of the community through marriage or other temporal reasons. The society has been founded to ensure interdependency and hence making it inevitable for just one community to inhabit a place. Depending on the issue surrounding the assimilation of one community into another, they are likely to be treated different (Lee 60). This may become worse especially when the communities realize that they have different religious and cultural activities. In the process of trying to accommodate a certain community into another, conflicts are likely to arise. Its magnitude will mainly depend on how the communities handle it.
Land and resource distribution has always been a major source of conflict especially when some few individuals were allowed into the land and increase in numbers. The native communities feel threatened as they realize that the few individuals they allowed into the society have grown into big families and consequently a community. This therefore raises the question of having to share the available resources as well as coping up with their cultural believes. To minimize on the possibilities of being overpowered, the native communities start to harass the other communities by ensuring that they do not share their resources (Connolly 93). They also involve in victimization activities that will ensure such communities do not rise into power and hence overtaking them.
In the novel, to kill a mockingbird, we are encountered with a situation where the white community, considered as the natives is involved in activities to victimize the blacks. Looking at the history of the blacks, we realize that they mainly came to United States as slaves. in fact, they did not just come but they were bought from their native lands to work for the whites. Initially, It was only a few and mostly of the male gender that were brought to the land. As the years went by and accepted their slave responsibilities, they grew in number and realized that they had contributed a lot to the growth of United States. They also realized that despite their contributions to the country, they were not being given a proper treatment and hence protesting. It was after such protests that the constitution abolished slave trade. From this point forth, many other blacks migrated to United States in such of greener pastures and even education. Even though slave trade had been abolished, the slave mentality did not die and the blacks were continually mistreated.
It is important to note that the kind of life the blacks had been exposed to made them adapt survival tactics. This included irresponsible activities such as excessive consumption of alcohol and other illicit drugs. This would enable them forget about their suffering and move on with their lives. The consumption of such drugs also made them violent and hence minimizing on the level of harassment they received from the white community. It is also part of such reasons that intensified discrimination against the blacks. They were dreaded people and the fact that they were not access to social and public amenities; they were mostly illiterate and dirty. Associating with such kind of people meant that they would pollute the blacks or even harm them. It is also because of this reason that after the abolishment of slave trade and there was need for the blacks to access amenities such as schools, hospitals and the likes, separate facilities were constructed for them (Augustinos 59).
Blacks were considered to have unique diseases and sicknesses, which the whites feared, would be transmitted to them if they shared the same hospitals. Parents also dreaded to take r children to schools that had black children with the fear that they would pollute the moral standing of their children or even harm them. It was also thought that the kind of mistreatment the blacks received would turn to revenge, which could be used against their children. Blacks were also considered dump and hence not worth going to the same schools with the whites. One of the ways that such racial segregation was done is by making it expensive for the blacks to afford white dominated schools or just denying them admissions (Lee 42). This also intensified protests from the blacks who felt they were not being given a similar treatment from the whites.
It was claimed that the black dominated schools were offering substandard educations and hence making it impossible for the children to compete with their white counterparts in schools. The blacks to work extra hard just to ensure they are considered for higher education and also be able to compete effectively with the whites. Even with such efforts, the blacks still faced discrimination at different stages of their life including employment. They were ridiculed and looked down by the whites whom they had to share certain facilities with. This demoralized them and even discouraged some to go to school or explore other opportunities in the country. This serious psychological issue continually haunts blacks and other races that migrate to other nations.
One of the highlights of racial discrimination in the novel ‘how to kill a mockingbird’ is the story of Tom Robinson who had to die because of the falls rape accusations filed against him by Mayella Ewell, a white lady. This was simply because Robinson resisted her sexual advances. Robinson’s father, who found them intervened by beating her up. To cover up her shame, Mayella and her father filed a case against Robinson accusing him of assault and rape. The court proceedings whish were mainly handled by white charges did not buy the sufficient evidence brought by the accused and his father and subsequently sentenced him (Connolly 127). All this happened at the watch of other blacks who affirmed Robinson’s innocence yet could do nothing to defend or protect their own in a white dominated society. There was only one white man Atticus Finch who stood to defend Robinson. He was a lawyer who believed in racial equality which he displayed by defending him.
It was not easy for him to take the stand, which made him to be ridiculed by fellow whites. He was however for justice and believed hat Robinson did not deserve to be prosecuted for an offence he did not commit. However, despite his stand, he was not able to stand against the bench of white judges who convicted Robinson. It was sad that Robinson was finally shot dead even as he attempted to escape from prison. It would have been expected that be treated leniently and not just murdered without finding out the reason for his escape. From the story, we realize that despite the stereotypes that may be held against certain communities, there are specific individuals who have strong principles and are not polluted by their environment. This shows that we should learn to treat people on individual basis rather than joining the rest of the society by judging them basing on their skin color.
Despite the negative racial characters we encounter in the novel, we find some few individuals who chose to view others differently. As other white families discouraged their children from respecting and treating the blacks well, Atticus advice his children not to charge people by their skin color but empathize with them. Even though they resisted at a tender age, they grew up to learn and appreciate other communities. This made them different people and became the beneficiaries of their moral standing.
During the trial of Robinson, Atticus family faces a number of challenges where their house is attacked and set on fire. Contrary to the safety and security they have enjoyed, jem and scout, Atticus children face the height of evil in their lives. They are however saved by a neighbor who had remained synonymous in their life. Arthur “Boo” Radley is a lady who has always featured in their lives and helped them by extending certain favors to them. She is also a victim of child abuse yet she decided to give back positive morals to the community. She refused to be haunted by her past and offered help whenever she got the opportunity. The two children, Jem and Scout were always in her mind and when she realized they were in trouble, she ran to their rescue.
Boo’s story is an example of resilient members of the society who learn from their past predicaments and choose to be of great assistance to the others. She is one lady who did not get the love and care she needed from her parents yet chose to extend it to her neighbors. We also encounter many other white characters in the novel that did not support the racism against the blacks. Compared to their white counterparts who judged the blacks by their historical slave synonym and their skin color, they looked at them as humble and harmless people. Mr. Dolphus Raymond is one such character who disgrace himself so that he is not question about his association with the blacks. To him, blacks are human beings who deserve love and respect. He shows his preference to live among the blacks, as he feels comfortable among them.
We realize that there is no general treatment given to individuals or communities basing on their race. There might be stereotypes, which are bound to change as people engage in close association with each other. There are few individuals who look at racial communities basing on their skin color and what the society has perceived them to be. On the contrary, there are those who choose to walk in their shoes before passing judgment on them. In as much as what is held against a certain society may be true, it is not always so to every individual. There are specific individuals who choose to look at the scenario with a different perspective. They also have to face the ridicule from the community that believes a certain kind of people is a threat to them and hence deserve to be treated differently.
Most of them who may want to remain neutral like Raymond and Boo will device other survival tactics. This may not openly show that they are n a certain side but clearly know where their hearts are. They however look out for opportunities where they will make those who are marginalized to feel loved and appreciated. This also proves to them that not all the whites are against them. This leaves a lasting impression on them as they do all they can to ensure that they do not necessarily revenge on their enemies. In the end, we have to admit that the society is those who will remain loyal to their communities and always side with them even when they are wrong. However, there are also those who will remain neutral and have a different perspective about life. Some of them may have faced cruelty and understand how a person feels when such treatment is extended to them (Varzally 142). They will therefore do all they can to ensure that nobody else in their watch will face a similar treatment.
Race discrimination is usually a sign of lack of exposure where by those who victimize others display their ignorance. This mostly happen when a person refuses to appreciate the abilities that the other has and recognizing their contributions. As people grow and socialize, they realize that they are all made different and hence need each other in every aspect of their life. For instance, before the whites though of importing slaves, they had to recognize their capabilities and how they will be important to them. They participated in various economic activities and boosted the growth of the economy. Even though they were looked at as illiterate and dump fellows, they came to realize that their situation was promoted by the lack of resources. Once they got their resources. Unique talents and abilities immerged from them, which even the whites admired. It is in fact exposure to such resources that the whites were threatened on what they were capable of doing.
That was a poor way of treating the blacks as most of them had established their residence in United States. The best way was simply to accept them, assimilate them and thereafter benefitting from their unique abilities. Those who took up the challenge of looking at people beyond their skin color enjoy a cordial relationship as the live without fear of any kind. Knowing that they have established strong relationships will also enable them share ideas and hence growing and developing each other (Bruinius 65). This is contrary to those who take sides and have to be extra careful, as they fear what may happen to them. Such fear hinders their freedom and hence making them vulnerable to attack and other negativities. They will hence save each other a great deal of inconvenience when they learn to accept and appreciate each other.
Another important lesson we learn from the novel is the fact that we are living in a society that is both evil and good. There is no telling of when and how good or evil will befall you no matter the kind of behavior one adopts. We have seen several cases of the good being punished for the good they did and yet the evil being vindicated. The repayment of good for good and vise versa has no place in the society. The decision to act good or bad lies with the individual and not necessarily, because they expect a similar treatment or such was earlier extended to them. This is a decision that is taken by many for conscience reason. There is peace within a person who does good even if he/she has to suffer for it. Others may however be justify themselves for their actions as they relate to the past treatment that they received.
The ultimate about life is realizing that we are diversified not just by our skin color but also by our character. Realizing that we need each other will enable us treat each other with caution. The world can become a very small place where the most un-expected person will come to our rescue. This might be different if we were never careful to treat them with love and respect. Enjoying each moment of live comes by establishing good relations with people. This should not just be done because one wants to reap some benefits but rather because they want to be at peace with themselves. Each person should always aspire to do good even if he/she is not appreciated or recognized for it. Imparting such morals to the subsequent generation will facilitate peace and hence development. There is never telling of when the seeds we sow each day will affect the generations that come after us.
Augustinos, Martha, and Katherine J. Reynolds. Understanding Prejudice, Racism, And Social Conflict. California: Sage Publications Inc. 2001. Print.
Bruinius, Harry. Better for All the World. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 2006. Print.
Connolly, Paul. Racism, Gender, identities and Young Children: Social Relations in a multi-ethnic, inner-city primary school. New York: Routledge. 1998. Print.
Graham, Allison. Framing the South: Hollywood, Television, and Race during the Civil Rights Struggle. Maryland: John Hopkins University Press. 2001. Print.
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Dramatic Publishing, 1970.
Varzally, Allison. Making a Non-White America: Californians Coloring outside Ethnic Lines, 1925-1955. California: The Regents of the University of California. 2008. Print.