The Dark Side of Maycomb

Essay by petmydogHigh School, 10th gradeA, December 2006

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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. Adam Smykowski said, "White people hardly had any respect for them because they thought Negroes were completely worthless compared to them"(42). This is the one and most important issue throughout the novel.

"During the 1930s blacks were of the lowest socio-economic group" (Smykowski, 45). This was explored comprehensively during Scout's and Jem's trip to Calpurnia's church. We can see that the Negroes of Maycomb highly respected the whites.

This is made obvious when Reverend Sykes announces "...We are particularly glad to have company with us this morning. Mr. and Miss Finch." You would not hear that kind of gracious attitude if a Negro arrived to a white church.

Racism was explored significantly in the case trial. Tom Robinson had so much evidence to prove that he was innocent yet, he was still charged guilty. Why? Because he was black, it was simple as that. There was nothing that Atticus could have done to win in a prejudiced town such as Maycomb, where racial discrimination was a way of life. However, Atticus tried his absolute best to gain the Jury's vote. In his speech to the Jury Atticus says: Mayella broke a time-honoured code of her society, a code so severe that whoever breaks it is hounded from their midst as unfit to live with. "Tom Robinson was...