Racism presented in 'To Kill A Mockingbird'

Essay by linh23High School, 11th gradeA+, September 2013

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Harper Lee is an American author known for her novel 'To Kill a Mockingbird', renowned for dealing with issues of prejudice in the 1930's.

One of the key points in which Harper Lee shows racism at its most obvious is during Tom Robinson's trial. In this scene Lee shows racial inequality, through the words of Mr Gilmer who repeatedly calls Tom Robinson 'boy'. The word is patronising and belittles Tom allowing the reader to empathise with him and create a clear contrast between Mr Gilmer with the character of social justice and morality; Atticus. Lee describes Bob Ewell, a racist character, as a 'little bantam of a cock' and 'red little rooster'. The continuous use of the word 'little' is repeated to perhaps show he is intimidated or ironically exaggerates, in size, between him and the situation he has caused. Harper Lee's phrasing here refers to Bob Ewell as a bird implying he should be mocked.

This links to further on in the scene when Bob Ewell refers to the black community's home as a 'nigger nest' also describing them as birds. The alliteration in this line sticks in the readers mind, highlighting the comparison between the black people, which are continuously referred to as 'trash', and Bob Ewell who is in fact no different to them. Alternatively, it could be used to provoke an uncomfortable reaction from the reader and show the racism in Bob Ewell so the reader immediately dislikes him. He is presented as a disrespectful, obnoxious character (contrasting with om Robinson) so that the reader does not want to be like him or as racist as him.

Despite the fact that Lee is a liberal writer, she is so accustomed to her upbringing that elements of prejudice seep through her writing as she...