In her novel, Harper Lee addresses a very question concerning status of “black” people in the society through the example of small town and its society. Harper Lee addresses a very important problem of racial inequality in the society and its impact on the life of an ordinary person. The paper will prove the fact that racism caused grievances to all citizens in town in spite of their color of skin or persuasions. Portraying race through children’s eyes, Lee proves and tells readers that racism is a social phenomenon only, and children are free from prejudices and racial stereotypes valued by adults.
Through relations between children and adults, Lee portrays that the problem is that American citizens, “whites” and “blacks” were not equal in their rights and “blacks” were not equally treated by majority of white Maycomb. The direct victim of racism is Tom Robinson, who is accused of raping a white girl Mayella Ewell. For this reason, Tom Robinson has no chance to be acquitted. As Atticus puts it: “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience” (Lee 109). While “whites” members of the society were universally proud of their background, African-Americans was the target of discrimination and outright racism called “nigger” (Lee 87). The cause of this problem lies in the fact that “blacks” were seen as slaves deprived of human rights and were unequal to masters: “As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life” (Lee 223). Tom Robinson was not a slave, but a common citizen of the Maycomb community who was unequally treated. Atticus questions this before the trial saying: “Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up” (Lee 85). In this situation, Tom Robinson was more a victim of racial discrimination and prejudices of the Maycomb community than a victim of a trial verdict and accusation.
Throughout the novel Scout is faced with different situations which force her make choices and accept decision. Scout expresses her attitudes towards people as: “Somewhere, I had received the impression that Fine Folks were people who did the best they could with the sense they had, but Aunt Alexandra was of the opinion, obliquely expressed, that the longer a family had been squatting on one patch of land the finer it was” (Lee, 76). The image of the man symbolizes racial minority possibility to grow and develop his personality. He has become both a symbol of ethnic academic fineness and the personification of Indian humanity and ethnic equality.
The process of Scouts, Jem and Dilldevelopment is connected with understanding of racial and social inequalities and prejudices. Tom Robinson was not a slave, but a common citizen of the Maycomb community who was unequally treated. Atticus questions this before the trial saying: “Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up” (Lee, 86). For Scout it w3as difficult to overcome prejudices accepted by her society but she is strong enough to distinguish good and evil. At the end of the novel scout understands that Tom Robinson is more a victim of racial discrimination and prejudices of the Maycomb community than a victim of a trial verdict and accusation.
The trial can be interpreted as a turning point in Scout’s personal development. The speech of her father affects her greatly and forces to rethink her attitude towards people and their values. In his speech before the trial, Atticus attempts to persuade jury that all people are equal and racial discrimination is nothing more than echo of the past which should be overcome. He tries to persuade them to be tolerant to other races and stop senseless oppression and discrimination against their neighbors.
Though children’s eyes, lee portrays that the concept of black culture is certainly at times difficult to protect socially in a state in which racial politics has seldom been as multifaceted as its cultural identity. Through the images and identities King depicts that the cultural nature of Americans had not succeeded in inspiring them to liberate America of racism and racial segregation. To claim interracial conflict within a community in which socially, politically, and economically racial differences are diverse may have appeared fairly untruthful. Scout depicts an ideal lady as “Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum” (Lee, 1988). Lee positions about the identity of African Americans and his thoughts on the role of the black writer have created heated discussions, particularly within Afro-American cultural issues.
To conclude, racial differences existing during 1930s, when slavery had been abolished still had a great impact on social prejudices of people. Racism affected all people in spite their color of skin and morals. Racism was a dangerous evil which ruined humans lives and destinies. The maturing of Scout is connected with events and circumstances she is faced with. In spite social changes and prejudices, she is able to overcome negative and false traditions and keep sympathy and dignity typical for a child of her age. She is a fighter who does not subdued by social prejudices or low morals.
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. Warner Books; Reissue edition. 1988.