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Prejudice was a common problem during the early quarter of the twentieth century. In the novel 'to kill a mocking bird, this problem is evident in maycomb, the fictional town of alabama in southern america. In the book its not just a case of black and white but the entire novel is about prejudice in many forms including class gender and racial prejudice.in the novel we see these events through a young girls eyes scout.
In the book scouts father , atticcus, tells scout and jem "id rather you shoot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you'll go after birds.Shoot all the blue jays you want if you cannot hit them, but rememberits a sin to kill a mocking bird". In this quote the mocking bird symbolizes these two characters boo and tom because it does not have its own song. Because a mocking bird does not sing its own song, we charecterize it only by what the other birds sing.this exactly applies to boo and tom. Both of these characters do not really have their own songs in a sense, therefore,are charecterized by other peoplesd view points are are targets of prejudice.
The novel is set in the 1930's during this tiume the country was in the period known as the Great depression. Many people were jobless and homeless. Many people lived in shanty towns, with shelters made of sheet metals and scrap. All oover america it was common to see unemployed men and women riding the rails looking for work shelter and food. In 1931 a person working 55 or 60 hours in alabama would only earn $150 annually. Because of the shortage of jobs and how low paying they were, there were fights for these few jobs. The blacks and whites hatred got larger with competition for jobs.one of the most amous court cases in american history was during this time,it was the scottsborro trial. The scotborro trial was very similar in many ways to the fictional trial of tom robinson .
The incident which was the basis of the scottsboro trials began on march 25 ,1931 when a group of people were riding a train from tennessee to alabama.
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They were made after slaves were released, because they were still viewed as minorities. The jim crow laws were that african americans had to go to different schools , drink from different water fountains and even werent allowed to go to the same retaurants and bars as whites.
All these issues and others made blacks start a civil rights movement to rebel against being regarded as third-class citizens.
In the novel, Boo Radley is a victim of prejudice. Boo Radley is not accepted nor does he fit into Maycomb society because he is different from others. He is not normal so he is punished by a society that is very judgmental. Boo does not act like a normal person. In society, his actions are mysterious and abnormal. One day Boo was cutting the newspaper with scissors, and when his father passed "Boo drove the scissors into his parent's leg, pulled them out, wiped them on his pants, and resumed his activity". Boo just sat there after stabbing his father. He did not apologize or feel sorry for his actions.
Boo Radley isolates himself from the people of Maycomb. Boo stays inside his home all day and nobody ever sees him. After some trouble with the law, "Mr. Radley's boy was not seen again for fifteen years". If Boo chooses to go outside, he will be unfairly viewed as a visitor from abroad because of his mysterious ways. Boo stays inside his home because he knows that his society will ridicule him.
Boo is the object of rumors and is viewed as the towns erratic figure. The town speculates what he does inside his home. People believe that Boo "went out at night when the moon was down, and peeped in windows any stealthy small crimes committed in Maycomb were his work". The town would blame or accuse Boo for any little crime.
Tom Robinson is the main victim of prejudice in Maycomb because of his race. Tom is black and accused of raping a white woman. Being a Negro in Maycomb during the nineteen thirties was difficult.Because there were the jim crow laws.They were made after slaves were released, because they were still viewed as minorities. The jim crow laws were that african americans had to go to different schools , drink from different water fountains and even werent allowed to go to the same retaurants and bars as whites.
At the view of the white society, Tom Robinson is just a "sorry nigger," who committed an unthinkable crime. In the novel, Tom represents the black race in American society.Like Boo Radley, Tom Robinson is characterized by what the people of Maycomb county say about him. After being accused of rape, most of the people see him as an evil beast. Juring the trial the whites townspeople felt they could not take tom's side against a white woman. The white townspeople even showed atticus that they didn't want him defending tom. Atticus was toms lawyer. They did not want atticus to defend a black man against a white woman. The people even called atticus a "niger lover" because he was going to defend tom to the best of his abilities.
In the thirties a white person's word is superior to that of a black person's. Mr. Gilmer demonstrates this as he cross examines Tom on the witness stand. Mr. Gilmer questions Tom's word, 'you say she's lying, boy?'. This proves that even if Mayella is lying, the White community will believe her before the believe any honest or dishonest Black.
Tom Robinson is unfairly treated on the witness stand by Mr. Gilmer. Mr. Gilmer, the prosecuting attorney is disrespectful towards Tom. He treats Tom as if he is a child and refers to him as "boy" when he is in fact a grown man with a family. Dill realizes 'that old Mr. Gilmer doin' him thataway, talking so hateful to him'. Mr. Gilmer is also disrespectful to the Black race referring to them as "niggers" throughout out the trial.
Tom robinson was a victim of maycomb countys policy where an honest blackmnas word does not up rank up to a dishonest white mans word. This policy ended up getting him killed as he was convicted of a crime he did not commit.