Racism in "To Kill a Mockingbird": What Harper Lee is trying to convey?

Essay by blondncrazy817High School, 12th gradeA+, December 2006

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To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, is a book about a little girl named Scout Finch who lives with her brother, Jem, and their widowed father, Atticus, in Maycomb, Alabama. Scout is a very unusual little girl. She is very smart (she learns to read before beginning school), confident and tough (she fights boys without fear), and she's a tomboy in the prim and proper town of Maycomb. Jem, Scouts older brother, is a very mature young man who admires his father, Atticus, and wants to be just like him. Jem takes care of Scout and she looks up to him which is why she is such a tomboy. Atticus is a respected lawyer and a devoted father that stands behind moral education.

In the novel, Atticus takes on the case of an innocent black man, Tom Robinson, against two dishonest white people, Bob Ewell and his daughter Mayella Ewell.

Atticus knows that he will lose, but he has to defend the man because he believes in Tom Robinson's innocence and he knows it is the right thing to do. Bob Ewell is an alcoholic who accused Tom Robinson of raping his daughter when he himself beat her because she attempted to come on to Tom Robinson.

The Finches are living in the time of the depression in a town of a racist white community. Through their prejudice neighborhood and the role model of their father, Scout and Jem grow to understand that the world is not always fair and that prejudice is a very real aspect of the world. Harper Lee is trying to convey that the social inequality that exists in the town of Maycomb pertains to the social inequality that exists today.

Throughout the novel, racism is displayed within the prejudice people living in the...