Racial Discrimination in To Kill a Mockingbird



Black Americans are more likely to be arrested than white Americans. Once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted and once convicted, they are more likely to experience prison sentences. “The older you grow the more of it you’ll see.” (Lee 253) In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee, addresses the matters of racism through the story and by the characters in it. Racial discrimination is one of the fundamental concepts examined in To Kill a Mockingbird. 

The term “n*****” is used often in the text, and Scout and her father are called “n***** lovers.” During this circumstance, Atticus believes it is right to defend Tom since he thinks Tom is innocent because they accused him of rape. This arrangement aroused the anger of the Maycomb Association. In Chapter 9, Scout’s classmate, Cecil Jacob, reveals that Scout’s dad is defending a “Negro” which causes a brawl between the girls. Prejudice has poisoned the atmosphere so much that Scout forgets her promise and loses her temper. “A n*****-lover. I ain’t very sure what it means, but the way Francis said it-tell you one thing right now, Uncle Jack, I’ll be- I swear before God if I’ll sit there and let him say somethin’ about Atticus.” (Lee 98) Scout is speaking to her uncle about insults that she has heard in town about her dad. The line captures Scout’s essential nature in that she is furious and ready for her father’s defense, but she does not understand the implications of the insults that people are using. The line epitomizes Scout’s fierce loyalty to her family and her guiltlessness, which prevents her from fully understanding the surrounding events. 

Another incident of racism in the narrative involves the negative treatment experienced by Jem and Scout in the parish. One time, Calpurnia, their servant, takes them to her church, where they face social hostility and bias. When she saw them, Lula expressed anger at the whites for saying they have their church. “You ain’t got no business bringin’ white chillun here- they got their church, we got our’n. It is our church, ain’t it, Miss Cal?” (Lee 136) Jem and Scout appear as enemies of the Black families at that very moment because of their white skin. This hatred is because of the way dominant white people treated African-Americans during that era. This scene shows how people have become antagonistic in their mentalities, even towards children, they cannot stand together in their worship places. 

The next act of bigotry involves a white character identified as Boo Radley. This young man stabbed his father with a pair of scissors. “As Mr. Radley passed by, Boo drove the scissors into his parent’s leg, pulled them out, wiped them on his pants, and resumed his activities.” (Lee 12) Despite his crime, they did not lock him up with darker-skinned criminals in prison. Instead, they put Boo in the courthouses’ basement. “The sheriff hadn’t the heart to put him in jail alongside the Negroes.” (Lee 12) From this, you can recognize the difference and how the sheriff privileges white folks. Radley receives detrimental treatment even after confessing what he has done. Helpless Tom faces ill-treatment because of his dark complexion. Therefore, to show how prejudice discriminates against humans and how authorities lose their sense of justice and decision-making. 

Tom does not get a “fair” trial because of racism. They captured Tom for violation and assault on Mayella Ewell, who was a white woman. This issue shifts the entire population of Maycomb against him. “-I seen that black n***** yonder ruttin’ on my Mayella!” (Lee 197) He turns into an easy victim of racism simply because of his skin tone. Everyone in town has faith in Mayella’s view of the story except Atticus. Even though there is no evidence of his wrongdoing, faces scorn from residents of his local area and the court. This preliminary investigation supplies an opportunity to examine the racist positions of the entire community. Racism is the theme explored in To Kill a Mockingbird; most of the people in the town are racist, they guarantee Tom to lose because he is a black man accused by a white woman, and they used racist language throughout the book.