Essay On Racism In To Kill A Mockingbird

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Good morning/afternoon, and welcome to today's Daily News. I am Lilly Zhang. Harper Lee’s novel To Kill A Mockingbird explores the underlying racism that exists in Alabama, and perhaps all over America, in the 1930s. It focuses mainly on the practice of racial prejudice and discrimination. However, other subsequent issues are also mentioned throughout the novel. As we all know, To Kill A Mockingbird is set shortly after the Great Depression had hit America in 1929. It had a disastrous impact on the Southern part of America, including Alabama, because most of its citizens are farmers. Therefore, by extension, their lives are more reliant on agriculture. What is the Great Depression, you ask? Well, the Great Depression is basically an economic-meltdown caused by uneven distribution of income. In the late 1920s, not enough people could afford to purchase goods because of the way money was being distributed. The economy was greatly upset by this and as a result, farmers in the rural, Southern parts of America, such as Alabama, were in distress because less people were buying their products. This issue was also raised in Lee’s novel through characters like the Cunninghams- a family of local farmers who were hit hard by the Great Depression and became so poor the only way they can repay their debts is through home-grown crops. Early into the story, Scout gets in trouble when she tries to explain to the new teacher- Miss Caroline- that Walter wouldn’t take money from her because he was a ‘Cunningham’. As readers, we know the Cunninghams were poor but proud, so they never took anything of anyone they couldn’t repay. However being unaware of Maycomb’s ways, Miss Caroline blames Scout, which lead to Scout’s attempt to beat up Walter, b... ... middle of paper ... ...s social position, it’s not hard to believe that they were looked down upon by other ‘Maycombians’. Aunt Alexandra, for example, refers to Walter Cunningham as “trash” (p.245). Yet we know this is untrue as the Cunninghams are honest, hardworking people unlike the Ewells. Even though To Kill A Mockingbird was published in the 1960s, concepts from the novel can still be conveyed to a modern audience. For example, through the seemingly unimportant event of Jem inviting Walter to lunch, we too learn that one should be tolerant and understanding towards other people and not act as if you are mightier than them because they might have a different perspective from you. Modern audience can still understand the message because of the way it was presented. It is through ordinary situations like this that Lee passes on important lessons on moral righteousness and integrity.
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