Social differences have changed incredibly in the last decades. The world has known an evolution that no one could have predicted. Aspects such as racism, social class and individual perception have differed drastically and now represent a modern open-minded world. The multiculturism boost our country and our world
has known has brought a new wave
of cultural, racial and social differences. The world has changed for the better and communities as well as individuals are now more open to differences in others. In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird
, the subject of social differences is the main theme for the book. The book adresses directly the major problem of racism per example and deals with it in it's special way. Set in the 1930's, To Kill a Mockingbird examines very closely social differences at that time. Unfortunately, the social differences found in the 1930's are very different than those we face in 2007. To Kill a Mockingbird has become a cultural phenomenon. Students everywhere study this novel referring to concepts that were established over 75 years ago. Obviously, opinions and beliefs have changed and do not apply to our world today. As a result, the social differences in the novel do not demonstrate the differences known to us today and is therefore innapropriate for class study. Today, visual racism is not present, trials are treated equally compared to unfair racist trails and social classes and economical differences are seen in a new way.
Firstly, visual racism found in the novel has become very rare today. The idea of excluding someone due to his or her race is not at all valued today if not frowned upon. Students are thought this in school to prepare them for actual society. Statements in the book are completely the opposite we try to teach children and teens today. In To Kill a Mockingbird, visual racism and exclusion is very obvious. When Tom Robinson and Atticus go to trial, a seperate balcony is reserved for the “coloured” people : “The coloured balcony ran along three walls of the courtroom like a second-story veranda…” (Lee 164) This indicates clearly the lack of social justice in the novel. People of other races than Caucasian in a public building have reserved seating, a practice that would be severely denounced today. This shows the drastic contrast from the book to our everyday world. Similarly, in Maycomb, people of other races than Caucasian are automatically treated as servants or as residents of a lower class without even considering their actual financial situation : “It (Calpurnia's church) was an ancient paint-peeled frame building, the only church in Maycomb with a steeple and bell, called First Purchase because it was paid for from the first earnings of freed slaves. Negroes worshipped in it on Sundays and white men gambled in it on weekdays.” (Lee 118) This statement perfectly shows the lack of respect the other townspeople had for the Afrian American residents of Maycomb and the social differences that were automatically insinuated on behalf of the African American community, an act that would never be performed today. Due the fact that the storyline represents outdated statements, To Kill a Mockingbird is clearly inappropriate for class study.
Secondly, people today see social class and social differences in a new way that does not relate to the way it does in the book. In To Kill a Mockinbird, when Calpurnia takes the children to church, some members were offended by the children's presence, a racist act that would not be accepted today : "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?" This proves clearly that racism can go both ways. Many times, we tend to think of racism as white against black but racism can certainly go the other way. This statement proves that the African American of Maycomb has accepted the fact that racism is present in their community as they are actually contributing to it by questioning the presence of the children at First Purchase. Today, religion is seen as a choice and not an obligation. Citizens are free to choose the religion they believe in or they choose to not believe in anything. Social class and social differences do not play as an important role than it used to be. People have become well aware and more open-minded to these kinds of factors. In like manner, in the novel, Mr. Dolphus Raymond uses alcoholism as an excuse to explain the fact that he has an engagement with a black woman and has children with her : " 'You mean all you drink in that sack's Coca-Cola? Just plain Coca-Cola?' … 'Some folks don't – like the way I live.' " This statement proves that the social differences and social class were very important factors on someones life, unlike today. With the multicultarulism boost that our world is experiencing today, more and more people are marrying people from differents races which contributes to our diverse communities. How can children and teenagers learn the correct values our society needs when we force them to study outdated material that represent values that are unacceptable today?
Thirdly, trials are treated equally today compared to past unfair trial that do not represent today's reality. In To Kill a Mockingbird, the whole novel revolves around the trial of Tom Robinson, an African American man accused of raping a Caucasian woman. Of course these kinds of acts occur today as well but it is the way the trial will be treated following the action that represents the era it occurred. In the book, it is clear that Robinson is treated unfairly because of his race : "What did she (Mayella Ewell) do? She tempted a Negro. 'She was white and she tempted a Negro. She did something that in our society is unspeakable: she kissed a black man." (Lee 203-204) This statement by Atticus proves that the whole trial was unfair and treated in a different manner because of the racial differences in this specific situation. A act that would never happen today. In the novel Atticus realizes this and states these facts. That is also why some characters see him as someone ahead of his time. Correspondly, even before the trial started, people had their mind set to Tom Robinson's verdict. The book clearly shows that the whole Maycomb community had set their opinions on the results of the trial : "Your father's no better than the niggers and trash he works for!" (Lee 102) "Well, Dill, after all he's just a Negro" (Lee 199) These statements prove the level of respect the residents of Maycomb express towards other races. Clearly with this type of attitude, the community had their mind set on the destiny of Tom Robinson. These types of assumptions would never occur today resulting in the fair justice system we find in our society today. Students cannot be exposed to such a disgrace that goes completely against our community values in 2007.
In conclusion, it is clear that the racism and social differences in To Kill a Mockingbird do not represent the differences known to us today therefore it is inappropriate for class study. Students need to see the reality today not the reality decades ago. Allthough, To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic novel, it does not represent reality today. Students have the right to be exposed to issues that surround them today. A more modern novel representing similar values as To Kill a Mockingbird should be studied in class today.