Back in 1930’s, racism was rampant through the Southern American states. A novel ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ by Harper Lee is about the issues raised in a small town Maycomb, in Alabama, in Southern part of U. S. A. the idea of racial inequality and prejudice are developed in the text through the use of dialogue and the situation that the character was involved. Through this development the readers are able to be aware of how racism affected people in Maycomb and how rife the racism was back in 1930s. Mocking bird was used as symbolism for weak and defenseless people such as Negros in American in 1930s.
This also relates to the title. Miss Maudie said “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but makes music for us to enjoy… That’s why it’s sin to kill a mocking bird“. Like a mockingbird, most black people did not do any harm to anyone but because of racism they were treated unequally to the white people. The typical example of mockingbird in the novel is Tom Robinson. Atticus said to their children ”Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em but remember it’s sin to kill a mockingbird. ” Like hunters who kill mockingbirds for sport, people kill innocent people without thinking.
The symbolism and the use of dialogue represented how rife the racism was in 1930s. Tom Robinson was used to show the racial inequality in Maycomb through his situation. Tom was a black man who works very hard for his family. Tom was accused of assaulting and raping Mayella Ewell, Bob Ewell’s daughter. Because Tom was a coloured man he didn’t get fair chance as white man so Atticus tried very hard to prove that Tom is not guilty. Reverend Sykes said to Jem before Tom’s verdict was delivered. “Now, don’t you be so confident, Mr. Jem, I ain’t never seen any jury decided in favour of a coloured man over white man. This represents that Negros have never been given a fair chance and many think they never will. However, Link Deas who is Tom’s employer said “That boy’s worked for me eight years an’ I ain’t had a speck of trouble outa him” Not everyone discriminates against black people and that not everyone is convinced of Tom’s guilt. This also proved that Tom is a good man. Tom Robinson’s situation clearly developed the idea of racial inequality. Through Tom Robinson’s case and the use of dialogue the idea of both racial inequality and prejudice was developed.
During the trial, Scout said ”his left arm…hung dead at his side. It ended in a small shriveled and…I could see that it was no use to him. ” The novel is written from the point of view of an adult Scout describing how she viewed things as a child so through an innocent young girl’s point of view Tom was innocent. Also it shows how strong the racism against black people was because of the guilty verdict passed down on Tom. While Atticus was defending Tom, he faced with extreme negativity exhibited by the citizens of Maycomb. Even his family was against Atticus’ decision to defend Tom.
This was shown by Francis who is Scout’s cousin, calling Atticus ”nigger lover” to Scout when they play together. Both Francis and Scout might not fully understand what a “nigger lover” means but they knew that is not a good words and Francis was just talking about what she had heard from her grandmother. This also shows that parents’ prejudice and hatred towards Negros are passed to their next generation. However Scout and Jem was raised by Calpurnia, a black maid and a strict mother figure and their father believed in equality and thought of no one to be different prior to their circumstances.
Therefore Jem and Scout had no racial prejudice. Through the use of dialogue, the idea of racial prejudice was developed and was emphasized The novel developed well the idea of how racial and equality and prejudice was rife in Maycomb in 1930s and Harper Lee described that by the use of symbolism, dialogue and the situation that the Tom was involved. Also the novel was written by an innocent young girl’s point of view so the seriousness of racism was emphasized and the readers could easily understand.