James Baldwin once said, “It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.” In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird several individuals show the burden and weight of injustice by racism. Although they are overruled, the fight should stay strong. In the beginning Harper Lee displays racism mostly in a verbal context, and towards the end, racism is seen physically and emotionally damaging its victims. The people in the town of Maycomb are accustomed to using offensive language aganinst black people. Scout explains to Atticus how Cecil Jacobs called Atticus a “***** lover” (Lee 85) for defending Tom Robinson. Atticus tells Scout not to say that word. He says, “that's common” (Lee 85). …show more content…
Scout doesn't understand the wickedness of the word Cecil used, but Atticus makes sure she doesnt use it again. He explains to her how the word is common and that they shouldn't use it just because everyone else does. It is a harmful word that discriminates against many people. The people of Maycomb do not understand that their harsh words are significantly and emotionally hurtful towards others. Despite the common use of the words for discrimination, it is crucial to not follow the crowd and to fight for the injustice. Racism is shown in a specific altercation towards the end of the novel that greatly harms many people. As Jem shares his confidence in the case with Reverend Sykes, an alarming fact is shared by him. He says, “Now don’t you be so confident, Mr. Jem. I ain’t never seen any jury decide in favor of a colored man over a white man” (Lee 238). The truth of the matter comes down to a white man’s word against a black man’s. Sadly at the time, the white man’s word would always overrule, despite the facts of the case. The people’s ignorance and racism leads them towards the biased answer. The injustice seen in Jem’s eyes is a heartbreaking matter. Reverend Sykes understands how it
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Lee writes, “This was not good enough for Jem. “No sir, they oughta do away with juries. He wasn't guilty in the first place and they said he was.” (Lee 251). This quote is portraying how Jem rejected the flower (racism) from being passed down by Miss Dubose (racial bias) and how white supremacy is present in the
Similarly, in the Tom Robinson trial racism is relevant, and Reverend Sykes, a prominent man in the Black community comments on the issue. He tells the children he “[has never] seen any jury decide in favor of a [Black] man over a white man …”, proving the fact that juries are racially biased (Lee 238). He explains to Jem how a jury can decide a man’s fate based on the color of his skin. Not whether he is truly innocent or not, but just because he isn’t like them. Juries being racially biased is an unfair way to decide a trial and has landed many Black men in
Tom Robinson, an innocent black man, was the defendant against a white father and daughter Bob and Mayella Ewell. Jem, Scout, and their friend Dill go to the trial and destroy their own innocence there. Scout narrates,” I peeked at Jem: his hands were white from gripping the balcony rail, and his shoulders jerked as if each “guilty” had a separate stab with them”(282). While Jem was at the trial he watched his father Atticus defend Tom Robinson the best that he could. He saw and heard his dad cross-examine every witness and question his own, but
The lessons Lee displays about racism make To Kill a Mockingbird relevant and extremely important to society. When Scout asks Jem, her adolescent brother, what the issue with a mixed race was, Jem replied, “Colored folks won’t have ‘em because they’re half white; white folks won’t have ‘em ‘cause they’re colored, so they’re just in-betweens, don’t belong anywhere” (215). Lee put the level of racism in the 1960s on full display in this quote, and society has since become more accepting of both mixed races and other races, though without the important reminder of racism in the past, society could never become more accepting. Thus, To Kill a Mockingbird’s instruction of the issue of racism is highly important to society as a
Jem Says “….don’t fret, we’ve won it… Don’t see how any jury could convict on what we heard.” After, Reverend Sykes cautions Jem to not be so confident. Reverend tells him that because he has never seen justice for coloured people. Jem brings himself to tears over the injustice of the verdict, his faith in the legal system shattered and he loses his innocence.
To Kill a Mockingbird shows Racist themes throughout the book. To demonstrate, Jem and Scout were being reprimanded by Mrs. Dubose as they walked to the store, she told Scout that of she kept wearing overalls she’d have a bad life, she also said, “Not only a Finch waiting on tables but one in the courthouse lawing for niggers!” (Lee Unknown). This shows that some people in Maycomb are very racist. As another example, they use the phrase “Nigger Lover” (Lee 94-96) as an insult multiple times.
Has one ever wondered if racism will ever end because it seems no matter how many years go by, it will live on forever? Luckily there are people in this world who are willing to fight for what is right just like Atticus Finch. In the To Kill a Mockingbird passage, in which Atticus ends the court case with a powerful statement where he is defending Tom Robinson, a black man in the southern state of Maycomb, Alabama, in the 1930s, Author Harper Lee uses irony and imagery to help develop the theme that the color of people’s skin does not define them as a person and does not automatically make them an awful and guilty person. To commence, Lee uses irony to establish the theme that one can not automatically be guilty because of the color of their
He was extremely optimistic that Tom would be set free immediately. However, Reverend Sykes provided a more realistic opinion on the matter, “Now don’t you be so confident, Mr. Jem, I ain’t ever seen any jury decide in favor of a colored man over a white man” (Lee 238)... In this time where racial inequity ran high, a black person winning over a white simply would not happen. Colored people at this time did not have hope of a fair trial in any court, and when Tom was convicted his last shard of hope
Scout is also coming of age with the things she’s forced to hear racists vulgar terms and speech, she asks Atticus what a nigger lover means because she hears it from people in the community when they are talking about Atticus. Atticus is able to answer her back by saying "nigger-lover is just one of those terms that don’t mean anything—like snot-nose. It’s hard to explain—ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody’s favoring Negroes over and above themselves.” So Scout learns what this term means but she also had learned to face the reality of the negative opinions and feelings the people in Maycomb against black
People of the town including children refer to black people as “Niggers”, and raised to think of black people as lower class individuals. “To Kill A Mockingbird” has a strong message towards racism, this is learned from Scout & Jem as they mature throughout the novel and are constantly being exposed to demeaning segregation in Maycomb County. In giving Scout a lesson about racism, Atticus also does the same for the readers of the novel. This happens when Scout asks Atticus what the term ‘Nigger-lover” meant, after being insulted several of times and not knowing if it is an offensive word or not, but had a slight feeling it was when Atticus was being called at. A quote from the novel: "nigger-lover is
After Atticus loses his trial, Jem notices that the Maycomb County justice system is broken and it needs help, “Then it all goes back to the jury, then. We oughta do away with juries. ”(294) This shows that Jem now understands that people are racist in everything and racism needs to be fought. On top of realizing that the justice system is in shambles, Jem realized that Tom Robinson’s case was very good at showing that.
When the town first finds out that Atticus is defending a colored man, Cecil says to Scout, “My folks said your daddy was a disgrace an’ that nigger oughta hang from the water-tank” (Lee 76). Both Jem and Scout are bullied at school. The fact that adults and children are battling Scout and Jem with words and fists, shows how deeply rooted racism is in Maycomb. “We were taking a short cut across the square when four dusty cars came in from the Meridian highway, moving slowly in a line” (Lee 151). Scout, Jem, and Dill witness a mob of white men arriving to lynch Tom Robinson.
Scout is again being taunted by a peer for her father’s defense of a black person. Although Atticus has tried to instill in his children a sense of morality, it is tested by the racist residents of Maycomb. Scout here learns of prejudice that she doesn’t understand because Atticus has raised his children to be logical and to value a person for themselves rather than their skin color. Blatant racism is also demonstrated on page 135 when Ms. Dubose says to Scout and Jem, “‘Your father’s no better than the niggers and the trash he works for!’” The fact that an old woman is attacking young children for their father’s profession, shows how Maycomb is deeply rooted in racism.
In the book Atticus and the members of the court system express the reach of prejudice, justice, and fairness in the justice system. The justice system was filled with prejudice. In the book it states, “ Now don 't you be so confident, Mr. Jem I ain 't ever seen a jury decide in favor of a colored man over a white man…”(279). Reverend Sykes is witnessing the trial of Tom Robinson.