Racism In To Kill A Mockingbird (Essay Sample)

Racism In To Kill A Mockingbird

Racism was a major part of the society around the 1930s.Therefore, most of the novels written during that time were directed towards the theme of racism and discrimination towards the people of color. Among them is “To kill a Mockingbird” whose main theme is racism. The novel displays racism among most of the characters with some of them supporting it while others are not in agreement with the acts associated with racism (Holmes, 2015).

Tom is the main character that is affected by the wrath of Racism. Being black, Tom was accused of raping Mayella. During the colonial era, raping was associated with the blacks regardless of whether it had happened or not.  Therefore, Atticus took charge of being Toms lawyers despite the fact that the other people were not for the idea. At some point, scout, Jem, and Dill helped in dispersing some men who wanted to attack Atticus for having to represent a black man in the court of law. This is an indication that the children were against racism and wanted justice to happen. During the day of the trial, some evidence was brought forward claiming that Mayella had been seen showing her advances towards tom by her father and was warned against it through a beating (Dogra, 2016). Therefore, according to this evidence, there is a great possibility that Mayella was not raped but wanted to have a sexual relationship with Tom. The height of racism is noted when the Judge ruling the case still convicted Tom despite the fact that it was already clear that Tom was innocent. After some time, Tom was killed while trying to escape prison. His escape can be analyzed as a show of innocence because he was held in a place that he didn’t deserve. As well, on the side of the judge, it is possible that she convicted Tom because she could bear the mentality of convicting a white person. At some point, she calls Tom a boy yet he was an adult hence showing not respect for his color. A deep analysis of this name calling is that the judge compared the mind of Tom to that of a boy.

Another show that some of the people of the novel’s society showed racism is by copying the 1930s way of life whereby, most of the American families had black servants. The African-Americans were viewed to be strong and able to work, but at the same time, did not deserve fair compensation for their hard work. As a result, they were paid little amounts of salary to sustain them. Tom works for Mayella, and at times, he is kind enough to refuse payment for his hard work because he had a human heart of understanding the fact that Mayella was poor and needed the money more than Tom. Such an act is rare in the current world and could be received with a lot of gratitude. However, Mayella did not realize how good Tom was towards her and ended up repaying his efforts by accusing him of rape. An accusation that led to his tragic death while escaping prison in order to have a better life. All this were as a result of his skin color.

As well, Atticus is one of the characters that does not support racism. Despite the common notion in the society that the blacks were capable of raping the white women, Atticus stood for justice and vowed to represent Tom in court. Many people were against his actions because they did not believe in justice for the black. As a result of Atticus decisions, his children, Scout and Jem are attacked on their way from school during the night. The Elwells had vowed to revenge on Atticus for his actions of bringing out some evidence that was aimed at proofing the innocence of Tom during the last trial (Bloom, 2010). Despite the fact that Atticus evidence did not work out as planned, Elwell was still angered by the fact that a white man can act against his fellow white man in order to support a person of color.

In addition, Boo is another character who is revealed to be against the acts of racism. Most of the people rarely see him because he is always indoors hence making it difficult for them to understand what he believes in regarding different aspects of life. However, after the attack towards Atticus children, it is realized that the person who rescued them was Boo. As well, Elwell is found dead from a knife stab on his body.  Given the fact that it was during the night and the only victims present were Elwell, Atticus children and the person who rescued the children, then there is a possibility that Boo stabbed Elwell. It is difficult for small children to fight with an adult and end up stabbing him. Therefore, this means that Boo was following the events that surrounded the case of Tom from afar and was not happy with the decision that was made. Hence, he made the choice of protecting the children instead of helping Elwell who was in support of racism towards the black (Hazra, 2013). All along, the children had been receiving gifts from an unknown person, and they realized that it had been Boo. This means that he was always protecting the children especially after realizing the danger that they were in after the father’s Decision of helping Tom who was accused of raping a white woman.

To kill a mockingbird has shown how different people in the society supports the acts of racism while others try their level best to fight it. Therefore, the level at which the society is able to fight racism is controlled by the people in power because they make the final decisions about the different aspects of life. In “to kill a Mockingbird,” a great difference would have been made by the judge through the act of making the right decision of convicting Elwell because Tom was innocent. However, the judge promoted racism by convicting an innocent man hence leading to his death in jail. As well, the children believed in justice, but the end of Tom left them disappointed to be in a society that does not believe in truth. This was planted in the minds of many people that the blacks had no rights and faced no chances of justice within the society. Leaders have the obligation of teaching what is right in the society and this begins with their actions because they are role models to the young people. The judge is not a good role model to others.


  • Bloom, H. (2010). Harper Lee’s To kill a mockingbird. New York: Bloom’s Literary Criticism.
  • Dogra, S. (2016). Ethics and Education in To Kill a Mockingbird: Rereading the Text Through the Prism of Slavoj Zizek’s Postulations. IUP Journal of English Studies, 11(3), 40.
  • Hazra, N. (2013). To Kill a Mockingbird. Social Work Chronicle, 2(1/2), 129.
  • Holmes, S. (2015). Cross-Examining To Kill a Mockingbird: Three Questions Raised by Go Set a Watchman. Language Arts Journal of Michigan, 31(1), 11.
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