To is unspeakable: she kissed a black man.

To Kill A Mockingbird, written by Harper Lee is a novel detailing the journey of Atticus Finch, a lawyer who hopelessly tries to prove the innocence of a black man who was unjustifiably convicted of rape. The novel also tells the tale of Boo Radley, a secretive neighbor who saves Scout and her brother Jem from being murdered. One of the main themes of Lee’s book To Kill A Mockingbird is racism. Racism is the belief that some races are inherently superior than others simply based on the colour or culture differences that are present. This leads to unfair treatment that can be abusive and aggressive towards people who are not in the superior race. Some forms of racism are verbal threats, personal attacks and people creating false assumptions and accusations. Throughout this book, there were several issues that were addressed; however, one that was central, and recurring was the issue of race. This was evident by the conviction of Tom Robinson for a crime he did not commit. The acts of racism that was noticeable throughout the novel when Mrs. Dubrose constantly yelled racial slurs and when Aunt Alexandra disliked her maid simply based on the colour of her skin. Tom Robinson, a man of color was discriminated, accused and eventually convicted of a crime solely based on his skin colour and the strong belief that people of his colour are criminals. Tom Robinson was accused of raping a white female. In chapter 11, Atticus quoted the following, “She was white, and she tempted a Negro. She did something that in our society is unspeakable: she kissed a black man. Not an old Uncle, but a strong young Negro man. No code mattered to her before she broke it, but it came crashing down on her afterwards.” (pg 1, Lee.H) This quote relates to the theme of race because Atticus is classifying all the reasons that imply Tom Robinson is not guilty of any crime on his own but guilty by association. Another key evidence in favour of Tom’s innocence was that Mayella had bruises on the right side of her face, proving that the suspect had to have used his left hand. This was in favour of Tom because his left arm nonfunctional due to an old accident. Despite the evidence Atticus provided, he ultimately lost the case, and this was not avoidable due to race playing a strong factor in convicting Tom. As mentioned above, Aunt Alexandra took part in racial discrimination against her maid. She is the sister of Atticus Finch, making her the aunt of Scout. Due to her racial beliefs, she was not thrilled with the idea of her brother defending a black man and thus strongly despised his actions. This is evident in chapter 8 where she states the following, “If uncle Atticus lets you run around the house with stray dogs, that’s his own business, like grandma says, so it ain’t your fault Francis is telling Scout that her father is hanging around with stray dogs.” (pg 2, Lee.H) This quote shows the dislike from Aunt Alexandra because she is implying Tom Robinson is the stray dog due to his skin colour. Atticus discloses to his kids that Alexandra believes that the Finches are the most important because of how long they have lived in Maycomb, and that most likely is due to the fact of them being white, resulting in their superiority and increasing their worth as a family.  Another character that displayed acts of racial discrimination was Mrs. Dubose. She made a racial comment to Scout and Jem every time they passed her front porch. She, like aunt Alexandria, is obviously unhappy that Atticus has chosen to defend Tom Robinson. She shows this displeasure by yelling out horrible comments like, “Your father’s no better than the niggers and trash he works for!” (pg 102, Lee.H) She shows her strong dislike for people of colour by expressing her discriminatory beliefs openly and by resenting Atticus for taking on such a case where the defendant is a black male.  In conclusion, this novel depicted the struggles people of colour must endure and showed the ill-treatment of them from the privileged white community. Throughout this novel, you learn the different ways in which racism affects minorities. It shows how people of colour take on personal attacks, both physical and verbal, and suffer property vandalism. Racism in this novel was seen to affect characters such as Scout, Jem, and Atticus simply because they were trying to help an innocent man who happened to be black. Harper Lee showed how individuals are conscious of what is right and wrong morally in the town of Maycomb and decided to distance themselves from being associated with racism and prejudice. The main theme and take away message from this novel can be relevant to everyone as it shows the consequences of being judgmental and discriminatory, and encourages the concept of unity and equality for all.References