Slavery As Portrayed In The Novel ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird’

Introduction

The novel is based on a true story and explains the events that took place in the writer’s hometown in the late 1930s. It is a classic book that captivates the reader with the unique flow of the story bringing out the author’s emotions. The book became an instant hit due to its perfect combination of humor and remorse in the narration.

The narrator of the story is a young girl named Scout Finch who lives with her father Atticus Finch in Maycomb, Alabama. He is a lawyer by profession. She has only one brother called Jem. Throughout the story, Scout portrays her father as a hero and a role model in maintaining integrity in the legal profession (Johnson 6).

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Slavery As A Theme

The book brings out certain themes such as roles of gender, education, racism, courage and destruction. The primary theme in the book is the issue of black slavery and the attempt to abolish it. Slavery is more depicted through racial prejudice. The main characters in the novel are said to live in the southern side of the United States of America (Roden 45).

The South Americans practiced racism as opposed to the inhabitants in the north. The southern territory supported the use of slaves to provide free labor in their large cotton plantations as opposed to the northern state who had declared the practice illegal.

However, the southerners were faced with a dilemma of maintaining their Christian morals on one hand and retaining the slaves on the other (Tolstoy 43). The ‘negroes’, as they were referred by the Southerners were important during this period of Great Depression.

So as to balance their Christianity beliefs and their material needs, they declared the Negroes as being in-humans who were inferior to the society. This justified their role as slaves and the reason why they could not be treated equally according to Christianity (McCarty 23).

Inferiority Of Slaves As Depicted In The Novel

The author introduces a character Tom Robinson who represents the slaves in the South (Lee and Bloom 12). Tom is accused of rape and Atticus acts as his lawyer.

He worked as a slave in Mr. Link Deas’s farm. He had been accused of raping a white lady, Mayella in the pretense of helping her. Racial discrimination was evident during the cross examination when Tom told the court that he felt pity for the white lady who seemed lonely. The statement is said to shock the audience as it was not usual for a black Negro to feel any remorse towards a white person.

The narrator is able to bring out the hardships the slaves go through during the trial of Tom (Bloom 63). They are depicted as liars and criminals with no chance of being justifiably heard. Atticus defends Tom with all his might by reminding the jury that there was no difference between the black and white men in court of law and that they should be fair in their verdict.

Tom is however found guilty despite his strong defense. Atticus does not display any shock at the out come and he states that he expected the jury not to rule in favor of Tom as he was a black Negro. Tom is finally shot dead by prison guards in his attempt to escape from prison.

Plot Analysis

Introduction of Tom by the author is a plot device to represent the plight of the slaves in the state. Tom is black and in a crippled state. He has been convicted before for engaging himself in a fight and being unable to pay up a fine. This is an indication that the slaves were poor. He had severely injured his arm in the farm while working on the cotton gin machine.

It should be noted that this machine was used primarily by slaves in cotton fields. Tom’s character depicts the hardships that the slaves underwent. The injured arm plays an important to role to act as an emblem to portray negligence over the slaves by the whites.

The decision by the jury despite the strong defense is also an indication that the slaves had no chance against the whites. Lastly, Tom’s death portrays the manner in which the slaves were killed for no apparent reason. This is due to the fact that they were not considered humans at all by the whites.

However, the author brings out another side of the black people as opposed to the whites. They are generous and do not seem to discriminate. One incidence is the fact that Tom befriends the lonely white woman and even offers to help her on several occasions.

The other incidence is the fact that the black people in the court room stand up to pave way for Atticus as a sign of respect for his effort to set Tom free. The whites on the other hand seem to hold a grudge towards Atticus for representing a black man in court and trying to uphold justice in the court.

Conclusion

The author brings out slavery in a brilliant manner though her excellent narration style. She tells the story as an innocent child observer in an adult based situation hence embedding the scene in the reader’s mind. Not only does the author portrays her father as a hero but also her hatred towards the practice of slavery. Her only wish is for justice to be served equally to both the blacks and the whites.

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold. Harper Lee’s To Kill a mockingbird. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2007. Print.

Johnson, Claudia. Understanding To Kill a mockingbird: a student casebook to issues, sources, and historic documents. United States: The Greenwood Press, 1994. Print.

Lee, Harper and Bloom, Harold. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2010. Print.

McCarty, Lisa. To kill a Mockingbird. USA: Saddleback Educational Publishing, 2006. Print.

Roden, Donald. Harper Lee’s To Kill a mockingbird. London: Barnes & Nobles, 1997. Print.

Tolstoy, Leo. The Slavery of Our Times. London: Barnes & Nobles, 2004. Print.