Colored skin people, particularly African Americans, have been under pressure and stress of racial injustice throughout history. After the mid-nineteen-century’s abolition of slavery, there seemed to be a shift in Whites ‘ relations with Blacks, but Whites emancipated Blacks by passing segregation and Jim Crow Laws. In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird the ideas of racism and segregation are hinted throughout the story. Lee portrays her characters with different attitudes and strong beliefs towards race relations and segregation which existed in the town of Maycomb.
To Kill a Mockingbird takes place in the fictional town of Maycomb located in the South during the times of segregation. Blacks were considered inferior and referred to as ‘ ni**ers ‘ throughout the novel, and ‘ ni**er lovers ‘ are those who help them or give them some respect. Atticus, the protagonist of the novel is called a ‘ni***r lover by townspeople. One instance of this is revealed through his daughter Scout questioning Atticus about this and he replies by saying “Scout ni**er-lover is just one of those terms that don’t mean anything—like snot-nose. It’s hard to explain—ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody’s favoring Negroes over and above themselves. It’s slipped into usage with some people like ourselves, when they want a common, ugly term to label somebody” (Lee. 112). Throughout the story Atticus, who is a well known lawyer believes in equality and defends an African-American man by putting his reputation in line as a white man. Atticus, Calpurnia and the many social events that takes place in the story teach Jem and Scout morality, truths about the society, and other lessons as the story progresses.
The Afrian-American people of Maycomb in To Kill a Mockingbird had to encounter racial segregation and confront the harsh reality of injustice and powerlessness vested on them by the Whites in several situations. Racial segregation is further portrayed when ‘The Negroes, having waited for the white people to go upstairs, began to come in'(Lee. 168) The fact that they had to wait for all the White people to go upstairs before being able to go to the court themselves, shows the differences in social standings between the white and the black community. Another occasion in which the discrimination becomes evident is when the Idler’s Club member says: ”Whoa now, just a minute,’ said a club member, holding up his walking stick. ‘Just don’t start up the stairs yet awhile”(Lee. 154). This demonstrates further the differences in the social standing, where the white people are allowed to have the first choice over the seats and the colored, second. The bias between blacks and whites is further emphasized by the way the blacks file in at the last moment and are seated in the balcony. ‘Reverend Sykes came puffing behind us and steered us gently through the black people in the balcony. Four Negroes rose and gave us their front-row seats’ (Lee ).The balcony is referred to as the ‘colored balcony’, which is a clear illustration of racial mentality of the townspeople and their law that gave blacks and whites separate public places. It also hints about the way in which the black people have been brought up.
A white man’s word was always running over a black man. No matter how low class or trashy a white man was, blacks were on the bottom of the social hierarchy. By their characters and predicaments, Calpurnia, Dolphus Raymond, and Tom Robinson tremendously presented prominent representations of racism and discrimination. Calpurnia brought Jem and Scout only to be shunned by Lula for First Purchase. Furthermore, Calpurnia is treated to be a slave by Aunt Alexandra. In like manner, Dolphus Raymond deceived the whole town to believe that he was a drunk, due to dissent, so to live his double life with a black woman was made possible. Comparatively to Dolphus Raymond, Mayella’s lust for Tom Robinson was not acceptable, which led to the beating of her by her father. Because it is understood that Mayella Ewell wanted Tom Robinson, the real issue was going to Finch questioning perceptions that whites and blacks couldn’t have any kind of relationship The impression is that the city sees this as a possibility, but the basic humanity of it is impossible, so it goes against their racist thinking. Although Atticus had a strong defense, Bob Ewell’s word was taken over a black man’s word; no matter how trashy Bob was.
To Kill a Mockingbird is a pleasant and truthful story that brings various contexts to life, and it helps the reader learn about each and every different character from Scout’s or an innocent child’s point of view. It also shows, as in the case of Tom Robinson, the disturbing truth of what can happen when racism goes to extremes. Nevertheless, the events of Tom represent another tale just as important to the book as Boo Radley’s racism is just as negative and unfair. Essentially decent men are oppressed in both cases because people do not want to see beyond the stereotypes they have built up against them.