Theme Of Racism In To Kill A Mockingbird

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Harper Lee’s magnum opus To Kill a Mockingbird is a beloved American classic, known for its portrayal of discrimination and racism in the South, through the coming-of-age story of Scout Finch. As Scout and Jem mature, and the fated trial nears, the siblings become privy to a darker side of Maycomb, a place they once thought to be largely idyllic. The children are torn from the naïvety of their childhoods, and are swiftly brought face to face with the racism that corrupts justice and equality in their hometown. This new chapter in their lives brings with it moral development and difficult life lessons about life that the children grow from, as they see the townspeople’s fears, and how they cope with them. In its many forms, fear impacts the
Gossip in the town compounds their intrigue—Miss Stephanie Crawford says that when Boo was making a scrapbook once, “Mr. Radley passed by, Boo drove the scissors into his parent’s leg, pulled them out, wiped them on his pants, and resumed his activities” (11-12). As summer ensues, the kids get up to many antics surrounding the Radley house and the allure of its inhabitants, perhaps as a means of coping with their fear. Over the years, however, the children mature, developing a more accurate understanding of the Radleys. All of their worries eventually abate, as do their games. By the time Jem is in the seventh grade, Scout states that “The Radley Place had ceased to terrify me … I sometimes felt a twinge of remorse … at ever having taken part in what must have been sheer torment to Arthur Radley” (277). Experiences and truth disabuse Scout of her childish and unfounded fear of Boo and the Radley Place. Other characters’ fears and prejudices, however, are not so transient and
Much of the racism, hatred, and oppression in Maycomb arguably serves to maintain the town’s “polite fiction” of female fragility and gender ideals, as well as the “evil assumption—that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral beings, that all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women” (233). This fear of accepting the undesirable truth that Mayella lied about her alleged rape, which the townspeople know to be true, and thus the fear of recognizing Tom as valid and innocent, are the main motivators in the jury’s favoring Mayella. The jury’s unwillingness to embrace an African-American’s statement as the truth also exemplifies their racist fear of change itself. In rejecting Tom’s testimony, the jurors are throwing justice and equality out the window, all things that they are afraid would lead to progress and change of Maycomb’s social