Racism in To Kill a Mockingbird
Although the novel To Kill a Mockingbird raises many important issues, Harper Lee bravely addresses the issue of racism in Maycomb society. The issue of racism surfaces in the novel when Tom Robinson, a black man, is accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman. Even though no evidence is discovered to convict Tom, the jury, which was made up of twelve white men, finds him guilty. This decision had a significant impact on Tom Robinson, Atticus Finch, and Jem Finch.
A large portion of To Kill a Mockingbird consists of the trial of Tom Robinson. During the trial Tom Robinson and Mayella Ewell give two different versions of the alleged rape. Mayella's account includes Tom beating her, and forcing himself on her. Tom's recollection of the events differed greatly from that of Mayella. Robinson says that Mayella called to him from the porch, and asked him to chop up wood.
While in the house Mayella wrapped her arms around Tom's waist and proceeded to kiss him. Then Mayella saw her father looking in at the two. Mayella began yelling and Tom ran. He says that he never laid a hand upon Mayella. Even though evidence is lacking the jury still votes Tom guilty. This occurs because Tom is black, the jury is completely white. Racism shows its dreadful face through their final decision.
The guilty verdict delivered by the jury had a vital effect on Atticus. He makes a tremendous effort in order to ensure Tom's freedom, but because of the ignorance that lingers in the minds of Maycomb County's citizens Atticus is unable to clear Tom. Most of Maycomb's
townsmen have racist views, especially toward the African American people. These views stem from the people of past generations...