To Kill a Mockingbird Racism

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Updated: Nov 30, 2023
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This essay will examine the theme of racism in Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It will discuss how the novel portrays racial prejudices and injustices in the American South and the moral lessons it conveys. The piece will analyze key characters and events to understand the novel’s critique of racism and its relevance today. On PapersOwl, there’s also a selection of free essay templates associated with Racism.

Category: Literature
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Pages:  5
Words:  1439
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Justice and racial prejudice

To Kill a Mockingbird and A Time to Kill illustrates the deep-rooted racism and discriminatory society in the timeline that was difficult to change the equal rights of blacks at that time. These prejudices make innocent people ineligible to justify anything they do, and most of them are black. In To Killing a Mockingbird, Harper Lee describes a story of Tom Robinson, who was accused of rape, just because he was a black man. Atticus Finch was commissioned by the District Court to defend him.

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In A Time to Kill by John Grisham is a story of Carl Lee Hailey is a black worker in a small town in the southern United States. His daughter was robbed and jealous by two white racists. He looked around for the murderer and killed them, then surrendered himself. Jack Brigance was assigned as a defense attorney. Both stories describe blacks seeking justice and equal rights in a society that is unfair to them. It also effectively proves racist injustices and social inequalities and prevents blacks from being treated equally with whites in society.

To Kill a Mockingbird and A Time to Kill both occurs in the social structure of which there are many unequal views. In the timeline described by To Kill a Mockingbird, where inequality was not justified. Such a society leaves them have no qualification to change the life of inequality. This problem happens when a white man says: “I seen that black nigger yonder ruttin on my Mayella”(174). This quote demonstrate that Tom Robinson is the one that hurt and rape the girl. Everyone in the town does not believe in Tom even though he did not do such a thing. In contrast, everyone in the town believes what the white man said, even if he said it was completely wrong. Atticus emphasized this idea by saying, “In our courts, when it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s, the white man always wins.”(224). This quote means that in the town do not care about the unfair treatment of black people, because most people accept as true that only whites are qualified to have power.

As a result, Tom Robinson had no rights or even a chance to defend themselves. Causes his life to be rejected and abandoned by others. A Time To Kill revolves around a black girl, who was raped by two whites. Jake Brigance asked the jury to imagine Tanya as a white girl, which he says: ‘Can you see her? Her raped, beaten, broken body, soaked in their urine, soaked in their semen, soaked in her blood, left to die. Can you see her? I want you to picture that little girl. Now imagine she’s white.'(156). This quote means Jack is telling the jury that if an innocent white girl experiences this, will you sympathize with her? This reminds us that we must transcend race, color, and faith and seek equality in the purest form. If you don’t have equality for every single person just by the color of their skin, you can’t feel the pain they suffer and let the real criminal escape. Therefore, equality in society does not exist and is determined by people because of their skin color. But in these two societies, it is necessary to face and change the situation of inequality, making life and the court a fair place.

To Kill a Mockingbird and A Time to Kill illustrates that justice is not always color-blind. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom Robinson has been arrested under false accusations, however, even though the jury knew he was innocent, they still declared him guilty, which shows the justice system is an injustice. As Atticus explains to Jem, “The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box”(221). In the court, Finch proved that Robinson’s left hand was disabled, had no ability to violence against others, asked the court to sentence him to acquittal, and righteously appealed to people to respect the facts and safeguard human dignity and equality.

However, in the face of a series of facts, prosecutors and juries with deep racial prejudice still believe in the plaintiff and insist on robbing Robinson. Learning to cope with injustice is an ongoing struggle for the book’s main characters, who must continue to fight for justice even as they recognize the difficulty of their quest. In A Time to Kill, the jury think Carl Lee is guilty, but the crimes committed by these two whites are unforgivable. This has stated when one of a citizen and days: “If convicted may have been free in only ten years”(208). This quote describe when jury hears the terrible event that happens to his daughter Tony, the jury expressed sympathy to him, which affects the jury’s decision and states him as innocent. As a result, neither story has a background in equal rights and justice for black people, but both lawyers in both stories are willing to stand up and change societies that are deeply rooted because of injustice against black people. This is where people start changing the view of prejudices, and equal rights for every person.

In both stories, Tom Robinson and Carl Lee could not be tried fairly because of the existence of racism. When Atticus was willing to defend a black defendant as a white lawyer, almost all whites were unacceptable. Which is presented when a child tells Scout and says: “My folks said your daddy was a disgrace”(76). The reason everyone opposes Atticus is that blacks have no right to let whites speak for them. In addition, the very serious racism in the town is that the older generation believes that the existence of black people has no value at all. This idea is passed on to the younger generation, which will affect their future views on racial discrimination. In A Time To Kill, since Carl Lee Hailey lives in a predominantly white county, a great chance will be tried by the all-white jury.

Jake Brigance tells him the fact by saying “I could probably get off…I’m white, and this is a white county…I could get an all-white jury, which will naturally be sympathetic”(60). Jack aware that he and Carl Lee’s situation has reversed, and he is more likely to be acquitted because if Jack murdered two black men, the jury would reduce the crime because he was white. Therefore, the sympathy of whites against white murderers is more sympathetic than blacks. In general, no matter who sins, it does not benefit the blacks. In both stories, individuals are not treated equally in both societies.

Today, racial equality and social and civil rights are all coordinated and helped. But discrimination limits many opportunities, such as housing, employment, health care, education, and etc, which cause many blacks and other minorities to yearn for an equal life. In order for many innocent people to receive the same treatment as ordinary people, we must correct the impact of discrimination on society. For example, blacks, as agricultural workers, are mostly suppressed by their bosses and lower income. Although we have made great progress now, there is still a long way to go in some areas. Due to the racism in the two stories, the preconceived notion of the person who ultimately determines his own destiny. In general, racism has become such a profound problem in our society that it has the power to influence our judicial system, society, and the new generation.

In the time period of the two stories is located, where racism, inequality, and injustice dictated the norms of society. To Kill a Mockingbird and A Time to Kill are similar in the way that Atticus and Jack both stand up for what they think is right even if it isn’t what everyone else believes. They both believe in equality and don’t believe in discrimination. Everyone has a desire for fairness, justice, and kindness in their hearts. Even in the harsh racial discrimination and the destruction of human nature in the context of the Great Depression, this desire is the same, but people sometimes may not dare to speak out their inner voice because of fear of the dark forces. Overall, it teaches people how to treat people equally no matter what skin color we have, accumulate righteousness in unfairness, how to shape their moral bottom line in a world full of ugliness and problems, and maintain a spiritual decent. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird Racism. (2021, Jan 15). Retrieved from