Racial Segregation In 12 Years A Slave And In To Kill A Mockingbird

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Table of contents

  1. 12 years a slave
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird
  3. Comparisons
  4. Conclusion

12 years a slave

There were two sets of reasons. Wealthy Southerners used it to divide the working class by colour. It’s hard to realize it now but the South was, until late in the 50s, a very backward place, the rural economy which provided low wages for everyone who had to work for a living. By segregating blacks and treating them far worse than they treated whites, the Southern establishment was able to keep the whites in their place, because they were, after all, still better off than blacks.

For whites, segregation gave them the feeling that they were not at the bottom, as blacks were worse off than they were. By labelling blacks, they also gained superiority.

With segregation, it's about keeping one set of people separated from another and also intimidation upon one group which had basically no rights in any conflict with the other group.

To Kill a Mockingbird

The entire novel from beginning to end is infused with examples of racial prejudice and segregation: the very casual and frequent use of the word “nigger,” the segregated seating in the courthouse, the outcome of the trial (Tom was clearly not guilty of the crime but was convicted anyway), the degrading treatment of Tom by the lawyers and witnesses (including their refusal to call him Mr. unlike whites), the casual comments of white characters, the vast economic differences.

In the 1930s, it was a place where separate never meant equal. It was a place where 'coloured' bubblers did not spout brightly coloured water as a child might expect, but stood as symbols of the dogmas of racism, which meant humiliation and shame for some and insignificance, and hate for others.

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Courageous African Americans were bringing issues of race, fairness, and simple justice to the attention of the nation, and of the world, by appealing to the conscience of all people everywhere. To Kill a Mockingbird is as relevant today as it was in 1960; there have been significant gains, but as a race of 'people' we still have a long way to go.


It's in the representation of heart-breaking cruelty and heart-warming humanity. It's in the innocence of a child's world overshadowed by the evil that adults do. The novel reveals not only prejudice, but in examines prejudice, and its consequences. Harper Lee accomplishes this by dramatising the main characters’, Scout and Jem’s, maturing from a perspective of childhood innocence. They have never seen or practiced evil and they think that all people are good and accepting of others. It is not until they see things from adult perspectives that they are able to confront evil, as well as prejudice, and incorporate it into their understanding of the world.

Whereas in 12 years a slave, the depiction is really the beginning of slavery. Showing the opposite sides of freedom and slavery from one mans perspective. Racism and segregation blatantly shown throughout with hostility towards blacks in the minds of the white people that the black race was of a lesser humanity and all should be slaves. Sexism segregation is a recurring theme as they were considered whores and promiscuous, whereas white women were saints. There was no justice system as they were disposable and replaceable.


In conclusion, in To Kill a Mockingbird, author Harper Lee explores the moral nature of human beings, especially the struggle in every human soul between discrimination and tolerance. The belief that racial prejudice is incorrect and the treatment of African-Americans’ is cruel and unjust. “Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” said Atticus to Scout. In other words, according to Atticus it’s a sin to help innocent people who are the victims of evil, just like Boo Radley who does not harm anyone, instead, he leaves Jem and Scout gifts and covers Scout with a blanket during the fire. The problem is society can instil beliefs that can act as a veil and blind people from justice.

Whereas in 12 years a slave the themes of segregation including racism, sexism, and neglect create slavery in that time in America. The themes of segregation include the racism of blacks being chosen as slaves, mistreatment of women because of sexism, and neglect led to it lasting so long. No-one stood up for them. It shows injustice from the point of view of a man, who couldn’t escape it as much as he tried.

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Racial Segregation In 12 Years A Slave And In To Kill A Mockingbird. (2021, September 07). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 25, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/racial-segregation-in-12-years-a-slave-and-in-to-kill-a-mockingbird/
“Racial Segregation In 12 Years A Slave And In To Kill A Mockingbird.” Edubirdie, 07 Sept. 2021, edubirdie.com/examples/racial-segregation-in-12-years-a-slave-and-in-to-kill-a-mockingbird/
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