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To Kill A MockingbirdRacial Prejudice Essay Research

To Kill A Mockingbird-Racial Prejudice Essay, Research Paper

During the Great Depression, times were very hard for minorities and they were treated harshly and poorly. If any blacks were accused of committing crimes by whites, ninety-eight percent of the time they were found guilty even if the evidence clearly stated that they were innocent. If any white lawyers were assigned to defend the blacks, most of the time they hardly defended the blacks because of the pressure they received from their community, friends and family. In the story “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, Atticus and his children, Jem and Scout, are put under a load of pressure from everyone when Atticus takes up a case to defend Tom Robinson, a Negro who was accused of rape.

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Atticus is put under a tremendous amount of pressure taking up this case, mostly from the residents of Maycomb County, but even his own sister pressures him to drop the case. The town was pressuring Atticus to not defend Tom because he was a Negro and they had thought that since Tom was black he was automatically guilty. This strong lawyer takes up the case saying “.. If I didn’t I couldn’t even hold up my own head in town, I couldn’t even represent the legislature,.. every lawyer gets at least one case that affects him personally. This one’s mine,”(page 76) and still defends Tom no matter what the town was saying about him and his family. Atticus’ sister, Aunt Alexandra, keeps telling him that he shouldn’t take up the case because he is disgracing the family by defending a lowly Negro. He will by far receive the greatest amount of pressure because he is defending Tom, but he is a strong man and won’t stoop down to the other na ve resident’s level.

The pressure Jem and Scout get from the other kids at school is very different yet similar to the pressure Atticus receives. At school, the kids taunt Jem and Scout calling them and their father nigger-lovers and the kids just expect them to take it. Jem being the mature child of the family, ignores them, but Scout doesn’t let anyone criticize her or her family and usually just punches them in the jaw. Atticus tells her to just ignore them, but as soon as someone mentions some disrespectful words, she soon forgets and her first instinct is to let her fists fly. “You take that back, boy! This order given by me to Cecil Jacobs, was the beginning of a rather thin time for Jem and me. My fists were clenched and I was ready to let fly. Atticus had promised me he would wear me out if he ever heard of me fighting anymore; I was far too old and too big for such childish things, and the sooner I learned to hold it in, the better off everybody would be. I soon forgot. Cecil Jacobs made me forget.”(page 74).

Atticus handles the pressure very well and just ignores what everyone is saying and defends Tom. Such as when some of the men of the town came to the jail to kill Tom, Atticus wouldn’t budge and stood there telling them he isn’t letting them past. Jem holds what he is feeling all pent up inside and after the trial he breaks down crying and sobbing showing how much the pressure really affected him such as at the jail when he wouldn’t leave Atticus’ side. ” “Go home, Jem,” he said. “Take Scout and Dill home.” We were accustomed to prompt, if not always cheerful acquiescence to Atticus’ instructions, but from the way he stood Jem was not thinking of budging. Jem shook his head. As Atticus’ fists went to his hips, so did Jem’s, and as they faced each other I could see little resemblance between them they were somehow alike. Mutual

defiance made them alike.”(page 152) Scout isn’t going to handle the pressure very well and will respond to the pressure with her fists. In this story, each person of Atticus’ family encounters pressure from all aspects of their life because of this horrible case. Each person handles the pressure differently such as just ignoring it, holding what they feel about it all inside, or by letting their fists take control of the situation, but all of them will come together by the very strong bond of love this family has.


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