Racism in the 1930s-1960s
Harper Lee said, “The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color or the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box. As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it- whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.” Lee was born on April 28th, 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama.
She attended private school for women from 1944-1945. Then she transferred to University of Alabama from 1945-1950. While in college she contributed student publications including the Rammer-Jammer. She traveled to England as an exchange student at Oxford University. She was awarded an honorary degree by that institute.
Her sister took over their father’s practice. She moved to New York and worked for several years as a reservations clerk for Eastern Air Lines and British Overseas Airways. Quit job and started writing. The book covers three years of Lee’s life in the life of Scout. Scout lives with her dad Atticus and brother Jem and their housekeeper, Calpurnia.
The main plot is the Tom Robinson trial. Tom was wrongly accused of raping a very poor white woman, Mayella. Even though tom is innocent, the jury finds him guilty and he is later killed when he was trying to escape from the prison. Atticus’ defense of Mr. Robinson makes him the lightning rod of the town’s rage and the fear of African Americans.
The second plot contains Scout’s and Jem’s imagination of the life of Boo Radley. Radley saves their lives when Mr. Ewell tries to kill them on Halloween night. Robinson and Radley are symbolic of the mockingbird, “it is a sin to kill a mocking bird.” The mockingbird is often regarded as the symbol of the south.
Lee chose it to “represent the devotion, purity, and selflessness of her characters.” The characters, events, and setting in to Kill a Mocking bird were influenced by the life of Harper Lee. Many of Lee’s family members and friends can be found within the pages of the novel. Lee is the character Scout. She wanted to become a lawyer and so did Scout.
She is the narrator and protagonist of the story. Dill is lee’s friend and colleague; Truman Capote. He invited her to Garden City, Kansas, in order to research for non-fiction books involving the murder of a farm family. Their friendship was traced back to 1928, when he moved to Alabama to live with aunts that were next door of the Lee’s. They both based a character on each other. They made several trips to Kansas including the opening of the 1920 trial.
Lee’s character Atticus Finch was based on lee’s own father, who was a liberal lawyer and statesman who frequently defended African Americans in the southern legal system. Lee helps her characters come to life by using her own life. History can sometimes influence literature. The great depression began in 1926-1930s. it was difficult for rural southerners who saw much of their population leave family farms. Most of the workers left in search of education and work.
It was the longest and most severe depression ever experienced by the industrialized Western world. The Great Depression may be said to have begun with a catastrophic collapse of stock-market prices on the New York Stock Exchange in October 1929. The story takes place in Maycomb during the Great Depression. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger. In addition the united states Supreme court had ruled in 1954 that segregation in public schools was very un constitutional.
History was also influenced by the Scottsboro incident in the 1930s. History can influence literature and even the life of the author/ writer. Lee created such a vivid setting by using personal experience. Monroeville, Alabama is where Lee grew up. Maycomb is modeled after her own hometown.
In the south, racial tensions were running high.post-911 racial profiling has taken on a very new meaning in the U.S. when people who are Indian or Arab board a plane; many people are concerned for their lives and safety. Arabs are considered more of a threat to the United States than any other race.
Lee created a clear picture of when action would take place. In conclusion there are a lot of things that can relate to the story, like racism. The mocking shouldn’t be killed because it isn’t doing anything wrong, just like Tom Robinson. Tom was not guilty but no believed him. There was a lot of racism in the court room. Most of the jury was Caucasian.
There was also discrimination because tom was sentenced to life in prison because he was black.