Historical Influences In To Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee

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Historical Influences in To Kill a Mockingbird

The Great Depression was a period of great fear and unpredictability. Millions of people in the United States lost their jobs and homes (McCabe 12). “By 1932, at the height of the Depression, the unemployment rate had reached nearly 25 percent” (McCabe 12). In To Kill a Mockingbird, there were many families who lived on very little due to the Depression, and the effects of their poverty can be seen in the novel, especially pertaining to the blacks. In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee used many different non-fiction historical influences as inspiration, such as the Jim Crow laws, mob mentality, and the Scottsboro trials.

The first influence on Harper Lee’s …show more content…

Mob mentality is a state of mind that drives people to do negative things they wouldn’t normally do, in a large group of people called a mob (Edmonds). They have this mentality because they succumb to peer pressure and because they are unambiguous in a large group (Smith). Mob mentality affects not only the participants, but also innocent bystanders (Edmonds). To further explain, the author of What is Mob Mentality, Smith, explains, “In extreme cases, the urgency and panic increases, creating a sort of crowd hysteria, and some people might even get trampled…”. This explains how violence erupts from mob mentality, and how it’s truly dangerous to be in a mob’s path. Edmonds states another way victims are harmed: “Many of the victims of riot violence did nothing to deserve their fate other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Simply by being in the area where a mob is labels someone as being a part of their group, and thus, their activities, which puts individuals in an unsafe position. In To Kill a Mockingbird, mob mentality can be found in many parts of the book. One behavior of mob mentality is that when a large group accumulates, guided by anger and their heightened emotions, it doesn’t take long for the group to get angry. This can lead to damage and violence, and this is another way bystanders can be harmed (Edmonds). In To Kill a Mockingbird, a mob formed at the town’s jail where a black …show more content…

The Scottsboro trials were a short time period of great racial inequality. It all started with a train fight between nine black boys and a group of white men. According to Anderson, their train was stopped, and as the black boys departed from the train, they were accused of rape by two white women prostitutes. The boys were sent to jail, and the day-long trial began. Before the trials can be explained, though, it’s necessary for the reader to understand what racism is. Routledge states, “...people sometimes use prejudicial attitudes and discriminatory behavior to boost their own self-esteem.” An example of this at Scottsboro is during the trial, where all the black boys were tried together at the same time. Normally, only one person would be tried at a time. Also, even after a doctor checked the white women prostitutes and concluded that they were not raped, the boys continued to be on trial because the attorneys didn’t listen. The nine boys were then convicted, and all but one of them were killed. The only one to survive was the youngest, who was sent to prison for life (Anderson). The Scottsboro trials were a short time period of great racial inequality, and a lot of this inequality can be seen in the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. In the book, a black man named Tom Robinson was accused of rape by a white woman, just like the nine black boys were accused of rape by two white women in the

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