Racism in “To Kill a Mockingbird”
How do our nationality or skin color influence our fate? Can you change the attitude of other people in your whereabouts? Is it possible to make a name for yourself if no one believes in you? These and other topics Harper Lee uncovers in her novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”. The author manages to reveal some deep human problems to find a reflection in readers’ hearts. We can be sure that she succeeded because this book won Pulitzer prize and remains one of the most popular books ever. Which lessons do characters teach us in this book?
In this novel you can see that in the adult world you need to assess the situation first and also that the world is cruel. Atticus Finch is positive, he teaches his children the best he can, he is eager for truth. His family rests quietly on his shoulders. At the end of the novel we see him, as a lawyer who is hired to defend an Afro-American man. Atticus tries his best to protect him and to issue a challenge to the system. Atticus’ morality is strong unlike his physical presence and position in the society. He becomes a hero for many generations of readers.
The period when this book was published had a name of the Great Depression, American Dream was more like American Tragedy (the book with the same title written down by Theodore Dreiser). That is why the value of Mr. Finch’s behavior is even higher: “In difficult times, in dark times, some people shine” – said Cassandra Clare. The kids of the main character, especially daughter Jem Finch, can see the story developing in front of her eyes. Just by looking at her father she gives readers hope that she will follow in his footsteps.
It’s not just a state of one city, we can see the whole situation in the American South: “Although occasionally faulted as melodramatic, To Kill a Mockingbird is widely regarded as one of the most sensitive and revealing portraits of the American South in contemporary literature.” The point is that our generation still faces such social problems as racism, an actuality of the book does not go down. In the USA “To Kill a Mockingbird” is included in a school program in 80 % of schools. Harper Lee wrote this book not as an autobiography. Nevertheless, some parallels between her book and her own life exist. For example, Lee’s father was also an attorney as one of the main characters – Atticus Finch, and in 1919 he was also hired to defend not one but two Afro-American men accused of murder. Also, others details are quite similar to Lee’s life story.
The problem of racism – when we act unfair to other people based on discrimination of skin color or other features – is still alive. Thanks to such books as “To Kill a Mockingbird” we can learn many life important lessons: how to hold on to your belief, how to have integrity and live in accordance with your firm life position, how to be a person worthy of respect even in dark times, how to teach your children morality and humanity, and many others.
- Susan Jolley, “Integrating Poetry and “To Kill a Mockingbird”, The English Journal (2002)
- Robert Bain, “Harper Lee” in Southern Writers: A Biographical Dictionary Louisiana State University Press (1980)