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How is racial segregation demonstrated in Chapter 16 of To Kill A Mockingbird?

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Introduction

How racial segregation is demonstrated in chapter 16? Crystal Wong 10S The theme of race is particularly prominent in To Kill A Mockingbird. In chapter 16, the trial of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white girl, the theme of racial segregation in the American South becomes obvious. We begin to see racial segregation early on in chapter 16 where Scout describes the scene outside the courthouse: the colored people sat "in the far corner of the square" and the reader is introduced to Mr. Dolphus Raymond, a man who despite his skin color, "sat with them," with "them" referred to as the Negroes. The use of an impersonal pronoun "them" suggest that Scout herself might feel as if the Negro community are separate to the white community. This perhaps gives us, as readers a more critical viewpoint of the narrator. The idea of racial segregation is continued as Scout describes the picnic. When she asks Jem about Dolphus Raymond, Jem replies: "'He's got a colored woman...all sorts of mixed chillun.'". This demonstrates the character of Dolphus Raymond as perceived by Maycomb County. He is introduced as a wealthy but disliked man in Maycomb County despite the fact that he "owns all one side of the riverbank [and is] from a real old family". ...read more.

Middle

Racial segregation is shown further when the Negroes enter the courthouse, after the white. This is stated explicitly in the book as: "The Negroes, having waited for the white people to go upstairs, began to come in." The fact that they had to wait for all of the white people to go upstairs before being able to go themselves, show the differences in social standing between the white community and the black. Another example can be shown 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 them stairs yet awhile.'" This quote only demonstrates further the differences in social standing, where the white people are allowed to have the first choice over the seats and the colored, second. The segregation between Blacks and Whites is emphasized by the way the blacks file in last 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." This quote shows several things. Firstly, the balcony of which they are speaking is the "colored balcony"; this is an example of segregation, the law that gave blacks and whites separate public places. Secondly, this hints that this is the way the black people have been bought up; to respect the fact that whites are superior to the blacks. ...read more.

Conclusion

One reason why he was convicted was because it was a white man's word against a black man's one. Tom, who is black, would be denied justice because of this. Atticus reinforces this idea when he tells Jem 'in our courts, when it's a white man's word against a black man's, the white man always wins. In Maycomb a white man's word was always taken without any regard as to how trustworthy he was. Another reason why he was convicted was because Tom Robinson went against the accepted position of a Negro by daring to feel sorry for a white person. All these prejudices are a result of people holding onto performed ideas of a certain set of people. It is not just racial prejudice, which is present in Maycomb but the narrow, rigid, intolerant codes of behavior, which the townspeople wish to impose on others. These prejudice all show the inability of the people to, as Atticus puts it 'consider things from his point of view' and the lack of understanding between them. The courthouse itself also reflects the social division seen in Maycomb. The courthouse itself is very old fashioned: "the concrete pillars...scrap of the past." This is symbolic of the laws of Maycomb County: old-fashioned and rigid. A prime example of prejudice within the chapter is shown when the Idler's club find out that Atticus will defend Tom 'properly'. They are disgraced at this despite the fact that Atticus is a prime example of someone who is an anchor of reason within Maycomb . ...read more.

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