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How does Harper Lee portray a racist society in Part 1 of To Kill A Mockingbird?

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Introduction

How does Harper Lee portray a racist society in Part 1 of To Kill A Mockingbird? Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird is thought of as one of the fiction stories greats. This novel is about human dignity and the right to be left alone to live as you please. It's also the story of growing up and learning some very harsh, but much needed lessons. One of the "much needed lessons" in this book is about the acceptance and equality of everyone in a society, the acceptance of race and how to deal with racism. The Book is split into two sections. This essay has asked me to concentrate on Harper Lee's portrayal of a racist Society in Part 1 of the book. The society I talk of is that of Maycomb in Maycomb County located in the Southern States of America. Maycomb was a very old town, a tired town, it had a slow pace of life, with very little to do. It was a tight net society where everyone knew each other. Everyone knew each other's backgrounds and history's. It was also a very religious town. In part 1 Harper Lee concentrates on bringing across these points and characteristics, and introduces and illustrates the townspeople's personalities, history and attributes. ...read more.

Middle

When they arrive at the church (which on weekdays is used by white men for gambling) the black congregation part in a wave like way, in order to make way for the two white children. This shows the respect the black citizens have for white children. It also makes you believe that there are no racist attitudes in the black society. This is wrong and Harper Lee knows it. She then puts a character like Lola, who is very racist towards the white people, to negate that point and to show that racism is also present in the black society. Lola's character is one of revenge; Harper Lee portrays her as a woman out to cause white people the suffering she has felt caused by them. This character is used to make the story more realistic. For black people are human, not all of them are innocent and angelic. Lola's attitude and views on race help to make the story more believable and shows that racism in Maycomb goes both ways. The parting of the waves is also a very religious influence; it resembles the story of the Israelites escaping slavery from the Egyptians. When you translate this into the story you get a picture of, the blacks trying to escape slavery and dominance from the whites. ...read more.

Conclusion

Scout goes on to say, "Well most folks seem to think that they're right and you're wrong..." Harper Lee uses this line to show that the majority of Maycomb's population doesn't think a white man should protect a black man. It shows a racist community. That line brings across and portrays as a racist society. When I say the majority I mean nearly all of Maycomb, even the school children are racist. This is because most, if not all of them are brought up in a racist household. Thus resulting in the children saying such things as "my ma says that your dads a nigger lover" Even the children in Maycomb are racist towards the black people. Few are not, and even fewer are willing to speak out and do something about it (Dolphus Raymond for example). Many are not willing to risk everything to make the black people's life a better one. It is an example of the majority over powering the minority, forcing many to deny their beliefs and support with the blacks, in order to be accepted a part of Maycomb's society, Maycomb's racist society, only Atticus in part 1 is willing to follow and carry out their beliefs and support for the black people. He will go against the racist society of Maycomb in search of justice and equality. ...read more.

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