The Role Of Fear And Racism In To Kill A Mockingbird - English - Essay

548 words - 3 pages

Thompson 1
Sarah Thompson
Mr. Clarke
English 9A
25 October 2016
To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird ​by Harper Lee revolves around a case that demonstrates the
prejudices and racism of the time. The story exhibits the notion that fear and racism is often more
powerful and is often the driving force behind people’s decisions rather than reason and
Decisions and actions backed by racism in the novel are very common. The major well
known one is the result of Tom Robinson’s case. Despite Atticus’s clearly laid out reason and
logic that proved Robinson to not be guilty, the jury still took it upon themselves to refuse a
black man’s word over a whites instead of doing what is right. It’s evident that this outcome was
expected when Scout asks Atticus whether he thought he’d win the case and he confidently
replied that he wouldn’t. (Lee, 101) This shows that prejudices and the preordained stereotypes
are typical in Maycomb. Atticus also gained much hatred from others as a result of taking on the
case because it was not considered conventional for a white man to defend a black. It even
caused embarrassment and conflict within the family instead of support and acknowledgment for
taking on a tough situation against the odds. (Lee, 110)
When the mob including Mr. Cunningham go down to the jail with intentions of harming
Tom Robinson rather than to let him have a fair trial is yet another example of actions driven by
racism. It was only when Scout’s innocence and humanizing impact on Mr. Cunningham made
Thompson 2
him realize the ignorance of the mob and withdraw from any possible trouble that could have
occurred that night. (Lee, 205-206) The Ewells also showcase decisions based on fear and
racism. They know very well that blacks have a major disadvantage when it comes to rights and
they also know that what actually happened was very wrong and would be an embarrassment to
the family if revealed. Using this knowledge, they placed the blame of the assaults on poor Tom
Robinson in order to protect their white superiority over blacks.
Despite the many actions that are driven by fear and racism, Atticus is a prime example
of someone who is very reason and wisdom oriented. He strongly believes against dividing
people into labeled groups and does his best to implant these traits into his children as he often
says to them, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of
view...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” (Lee, 39). When hatred and
disapproval for taking Tom’s case was constantly being flung at him he kept his ground and
stands firm with his beliefs. He thinks everyone deserves a chance thus why he took on the case,
even knowing that the odds would outnumber the evens. (Lee, 100-101)
As Harper Lee expresses the unfortunate reality of how frequently fear and racism took
control of situations, it’s refreshing to look at today’s society and look at the progress that has
been made since fifty years ago with people like Atticus who, regardless of an unsuccessful court
case, was successful in taking a small step towards a more intelligent and reasonable outcome in
the long term.

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