Keys themes to To Kill a Mockingbird: Racism and Intolerance

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  • Created by: Alice
  • Created on: 07-03-13 12:11

Racism and Intolerance: In the novel this is the 'monster' theme - the main focus of the novel and one of the main reasons why it was written. Lee was influenced by the changing attitudes to racism during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s.  

Most white people in Maycomb think Black people are inferior: Racism was rife in the American South during the 1930s and Maycomb is no exception.  Prejudice is a normal part of everyday life for most of the characters. Maycomb is used as a microcosm of America, meaning it is used to symbolise the typical American town. The character don't think twice about using racist language like 'darky' and '******' - Scout tells Atticus that's "what everybody at school say". The white community have no respect for the black community e.g. they gamble in the black's church (First Purchase) during the weekdays. Atticus calls racism Maycomb's "usual disease". The word usual show just how common racism is, and how hard it will be to change what so many people have believed all their  lives. 

It's not easy to Stand Up against racism: Atticus realises he's "licked" before the trial even starts - the court won't take the word of a black man over a white man, even if that white man is "trash" like Bob Ewell. People's prejudices are even stronger than cold, hard evidence - Atticus proves that Tom coundn't have attacked


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