Essay about Racial Prejudice and Oppression in Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird

Essay about Racial Prejudice and Oppression in Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird

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Racial Prejudice and Oppression in Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird


'Democracy,' she said. 'Does anybody have a definition?' ... 'Equal rights for all, special privileges for none' (Lee 248).

To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee's only novel, is a fictional story of racial oppression, set in Maycomb, A.L. in 1925 to 1935, loosely based on the events of the Scottsboro trials. Unlike the story however, the racial discrimination and oppression in the novel very accurately portrays what it was like in the 1920's and 1930's in the south. Tom Robinson, the black man accused of raping a poor low class white girl of 19, never stood a chance of getting a fair trial. This can be supported by giving examples of racially discriminatory and oppressive events that actually took place in the south during the time period in which the novel is based. In addition to actual historical events, events and examples from the book that clearly illustrate the overpoweringly high levels of prejudice that were intertwined in the everyday thinking of the majority of the characters in the book supports the fact that Tom Robinson never stood a chance of getting a fair trial.

One historical event that shows the discrimination and the oppression that was prevalent in the south during the 1920's to 1930's is recorded in the June 12, 1930 edition of the New York Times. The article "Birmingham Bars Hall to De Priest" describes how "...Oscar De Priest, Negro [Federal] representative from Illinois, would not be permitted to use the municipal auditorium for a scheduled address..."("Birmingham Bars Hall") that was to have take place on July 17th of that year in Birmingham, Alabama. The president of the Birmingham City Commission, J. M. Jones's only...


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...del citizens. Additionally, the jury was made up of people from the areas, who are very prejudice towards blacks. Evidence from the novel and historical evidence from the time period shows clearly that the amount of prejudice that was so intertwined into the characters and the actual people of the time is so great that no black man, let alone Tom Robinson, could ever have stood a chance of getting a fair and just trail. As soon as Mayllea made the accusation, almost everyone in the town save a few dozen, "knew" that he was as guilty of the crime as the sky is blue.


Works Cited

"Birmingham Bars Hall to De Priest." New York Times 12 June 1930: 15.

"Four Held In Lynching." New York Times 25 Apr. 1930: 26.

"Join in De Priest Case Criticism." New York Times 3 July 1929: 11.

Lee, Harper. To Kill A Mockingbird. New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1982.

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