Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Discrimination and Character in TKAM

What is the accepted practice of discrimination (how the majority of people believe it is okay to treat someone; who you are allowed to interact with and how) in Lees fictionalised version of 1930s Alabama?

Make a list of all the social rules you can think of that are mentioned in the book or part of your understanding of the historical context.

If you are black: e.g. you must sit at the back of the bus and use separate taps, toilets, and schools; you must not offer to shake the hand of a white person.

If you are white: e.g. you must not allow a black person to call you by your first name; you must date and marry other white people.


If you are upper class/hold a job: you have higher status, you use money

If you are lower class/dont hold a job: you keep to yourself, dont mingle with society, you barter


If you are a man: you must provide for your family; you own the females in your family; you must be physically tough and not emotional

If you are a woman: you receive less respect and status in society; you must wear dresses

Work with your partner to determine which characters reinforce (acts in accordance with, or perpetuates racism or classism) these accepted practices of racial discrimination or discrimination based on class, and which characters challenge (acts or speaks out against discrimination, realises it is wrong, or is shown to be moral or kind despite being the victim of discrimination).

For each character, note down which type of discrimination they reinforce or challenge, and examples of how they do this. NOTE: characters may both reinforce and challenge accepted practice.

E.g. Mayella Ewell: while Mayella challenges racial discrimination somewhat by seeking out sexual relations with Tom Robinson, her actions following their encounter help to reinforce these ideas. By going along with her fathers lie, Mayella assists in condemning a man for the colour of his skin. Because Tom is black, she and her father believe his testimony wont stand up against theirs in court. Rather than admit she sought Tom out (and risk further social isolation), Mayella passively allows societys preconceptions to condemn him.
Mayella is also the victim of class discrimination. As a Ewell woman, she is left to her fathers cruel whims, with almost no outside contact or friendship and no prospects of a better life. She is a prime example of the role social status and gender play in determining the fate of Maycomb residents.
E.g. Atticus Finch: he acts against racial prejudice and discrimination when he represents Tom Robinson to the best of his ability despite societys belief that his word means less than that of a white man/woman. He also teaches Scout to see things from others perspective, and not to judge someone until you know them (which can apply to not judging based on skin colour). He also tells Scout not to use terms like n***er.
Atticus gentle and respectful manner with the Cunninghams (allowing them to pay with goods instead of money, treating Walter like an equal at the dinner table) reveals that he also challenges his societys class-based discrimination.
Aunt Alexandra
Bob Ewell
Miss Maudie Atkinson
Mrs Dubose
Jem Finch

Heck Tate

Mr. Dolphus Raymond

Link Deas

Mr Underwood
Tom Robinson
Mr. Walter Cunningham
Water Cunningham
Scout Finch

1 comment:

  1. A good analysis of this book, it is not nice that such a race in US policy lasted very long, as in Europe at that time already 100 years now as a more relaxed attitude to other races! You can look on a great dissertation what I read about races policy in Europe 19ct here


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