To kill a Mockingbird was written by Harper Lee in 1957 and was first published in 1960. It was set in a small American town, although non-fictional it resembles Harpers Lee’s home Monroeville. Harper Lee includes many themes throughout the text. She also uses the theme of racism to show the divide in this typical American town in the 1930’s.The story follows the Finch family through a trial which separates the town. This divide is the divide of races. Black, white with few people not succumbing to this. Most of the black community are racist and even the blacks, who are treated as inferior and lower class, have come to accept this. Tom (who is black) is wrongly accused of raping a young girl. The whole community starts gossiping and as Atticus Finch is his defence, the community turn against him and his family. Tom is convicted and sent to prison. He tries to escape, but just before Atticus can say to him that a retrial is to be held, Tom was shot dead.The church is the main focus in the novel which brings about this divide. The blacks don not have a chapel or church to worship in, so they have to make-do with a building used for other things. “Negroes worshipped in it on Sundays and white people gambled in it on weekdays.” This shows that the whites have no respect or others’ beliefs. They would not stand for their place of worship to be treated in this way, yet they do this to others.In the novel, the blacks have become to accept the way in which they are treated. They have now become accustomed to this and do not like it if anything changes. “I wants to know why you brinin’ white chillum here – they got their own church, we got air’n. It is our church, ain’t it, miss Cal?” Lula is disgusted with Cal for taking Jem and Scout to their church. This leaves them feeling rejected. However, even though Lula is against their presence in the church, the rest of the congregation welcome Jem and Scout.Most of the white families hire blacks as cooks, they are treated more as part of the family but are still looked down upon and talked about. For instance, Jem and Scout’s Aunt Alexandra doesn’t like Calpurnia “We don’t need her now”, she doesn’t want Calpurnia’s presence in the house. Aunt Alexandra does not want Scout to be drawn into ‘their’ way of life, but little does she realise that the Finch family got on much better without her.In the community, blacks are viewed as evil and unintelligent, Harper Lee does not surrender to this stereotypical view, even though some of her characters depict this view. She shows that they are just the same, human. Tom is a loveable character, but is treated viciously by the town. He is treated inhumanely. “don’t see why you touched it in the first place”. This is Link Deas, the owner of the cotton-picking farms, referring to Tom as it, when speaking to Atticus. This is very hypocritical since he gave Tom and his wife support and work during the tough times they found. This shows that the people in the community can be very deceitful, or only behave in this manner so that they will not be spoken about too.During the trial, Tom is frowned upon. The court room is divided with a “coloured balcony”. The way the blacks entered the court room emphasises the segregation between the blacks and whites. They were to file in last. However, there was no room, but people up in the blacks balcony still gave up their seat for Jem, Scout and Dill as it shows that even white children are known as a higher priority than black adults.In the trial Mayella Ewell (the girl who accused Tom of raping her) gave her version of events after her father. Mayella was, quite often, confused of what happened, she could not keep her story straight. Mayella claims that it was the first time she asked Tom for help. The way that she spoke to Tom is degrading. “Come here, nigger and bust up this chiffarobe for me.” This shows that blacks are being treated as inferior and whites have taken advantage of them.However, Tom’s version of events was quite different. Tom stated that this was not the first time that Mayella had called on him to do her a favour. When asked why he this for Mayella accepting no payment, Tom’s response was “Yes suh. I felt sorry for her, she seemed to try more’n the rest of ’em'” – but Tom did not get to finish his sentence as Mr Gilmer butts in saying “You felt sorry for her, you felt sorry for her?! The writer uses italics in the underlined part of the sentence to emphasise the disgust in Mr Gilmer’s voice. It seems that Blacks are not allowed to show any sympathy towards whites and this is taken as disrespect.At this point Scout and Dill leave the court room as Dill cannot bear all the predjudice against blacks. Outside they meet Dolphus Raymond, who also disagrees with the whole situation. He knows exactly why Dill is crying “Cry about the Hell white people give coloured – without even thinking. Cry about the hell white people give coloured, without even stopping to think that they’re people too”. He knows that Tom, Calpurnia and all of the black community are exactly the same, with one exception, their skin colour.I find it hard to believe that people can be so narrow minded but it is there, everywhere you go. Someone is being discriminated for one thing or another. I think Harper Lee portrays this well, and even though it was written around 50 years ago, it still happens. This story still relates to the present. She uses the strength of a few characters to get this message across. The town is divided but few people are not confined to either side, in the middle trying to get others to see sense. If they could show a few people the error of their ways it would make a difference. Just like in reality.


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