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To Kill a Mockingbird and the Scottsboro Trials

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Taylor Hogan

on 18 May 2010

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Transcript of To Kill a Mockingbird and the Scottsboro Trials

To Kill a Mockingbird=Scottsboro Trial In To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee creates a trial
similar to the Scottsboro trial to reflect on her
opinion on the unfairness of the trial. Mayella=Victoria Price
and Ruby Bates In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee creates the
character Mayella Ewell to represent the two white girls,
Ruby Bates and Victoria Price, who were involved in the
Scottsboro trials. Mayella Ewell was a "thick-bodied [white]
girl [who was] accustomed to strenuous labor" (Lee 203).
Victoria Price, one of the girls who claimed that she had
gotten raped "was tough, a survivor in every way [and she
was] hard-talking, [and] tobacco chewing" (Transcript).
Ruby Bates was nothing like Victoria Price. Ruby Bates was
"very quiet [and] softspoken" (Transcript). Ruby Bates and
Victoria Price's relationship was one where "Victoria totally
dominated Ruby Bates," which is possibly why there is only
one girl that got raped in To Kill a Mockingbird. Mayella
Ewell in To Kill a Mockingbird claimed that she had been
raped by Tom Robinson, a young black man. Ruby Bates
and Victoria Price claimed that they had gotten raped by 9
black boys while on a train. As clearly proved in the book,
Mayella Ewell did not get raped by Tom Robinson, her father
was the one who actually harmed her. Ruby Bates and Victoria
Price were not raped either. On April 6, 1933, Ruby Bates
denied "that any rape occured and [testified] that she was
with Victoria Price for the whole train ride" (Timeline).
Also, Ruby Bates later claimed that the "police man made
[her] tell a lie" (Ruby Bates). Bob Ewell=Victoria Price In To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee took Victoria Price's arrogance and put it into the character of Bob Ewell. In the novel, Bob Ewell is a very selfish and rude man. Bob Ewell fought continuously for his daughter, Mayella, during the trial to try to prove that his daughter was raped by Tom Robinson. His arrogance appears in his response to the solicitor, Mr. Gilmer, asking him if he was the father of Mayella Ewell. His response to the question was, "Well, if I ain't I can't do nothing about it now, her ma's dead" (Lee 195). He did not just give a simple, kind response, he had to be rude and inconsiderate. As Atticus proves, Bob Ewell is actually the one guilty of harming Mayella. Bob Ewell never admitted that he harmed Mayella or that Tom Robinson did not, but the evidence given by Atticus Finch makes it clearly evident. In The Scottsboro trial, Victoria Price never admitted that she was not raped. She blamed an innocent black man for something he never did. Tom Robinson=the 9 Scottsboro boys In To Kill a Mockingbird, the nine black boys charged with rape of Victoria Price and Ruby Bates in the Scottsboro trial were represented by the character Tom Robinson. The nine boys included: Clarence Norris, 19 at the time, Charles Weems, 20, Haywood Patterson, 18, Olen Montgomery, 17, Ozie Powell, 15, Willie Roberson, 15, Eugene Williams, 13, Andy Wright, 19, and the youngest, Roy Wright, age 13. Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird, was a kind, married black man that would seems like he would never do anyone any harm. Mayella Ewell claimed that Tom Robinson raped her and hurt her. According to the evidence that Atticus Finch gave in the story, Tom Robinson never raped or injured Mayella Ewell at all, her father did. In the Scottsboro trials, the nine black boys that were accused of raping Victoria Price and Ruby Bates probably never raped them, but they were still convicted. Because of the ongoing racial issues in the South, the nine boys and Tom Robinson were said to be guilty, even though they had done nothing wrong. Scout Finch To Kill a Mockingbird is told by Scout Finch, a young girl living in Alabama in the 1930s. Scout's father is a lawyer and she has an older brother, whose name is Jem. Harper Lee uses Scout as the narrator of the novel so the reader can see the trial and all of the issues that are going on through the eyes of a child. Scout's views on things in the book are very child-like, which makes them easier to understand, but also the reader can see the fairness and unfairness of life in the South in the 1930s. The reader can also see the unfairness of Tom Robinson's trial. Scout does not understand why Tom Robinson is guilty, because to her it seems like he is innocent and never did anything wrong, which is probably true. Seeing the situation in the eyes of a child helps the reader to see the extremity of the unfairness. Going into a serious situation like this one with limited knowledge helps the reader see how unfair and not right a situation can end up being. To Kill a Mockingbird was written to model Harper Lee's life. She lived and grew up in a small town in Alabama, just like Maycomb, during the 1930's. She witnessed the Scottsboro trial at the age of five or six, which is where Scout's character comes into place. SETTING To Kill a Mockingbird is set in Alabama during the 1930s. The Scottsboro trial took place in the same time and setting as in the book. In the 1930s, there were racial issues and injustice occuring in the South. The 1930s were also the time of the Great Depression. During the novel "there were sit-down strikes in Birmingham[,] bread lines in the cities grew longer, [and] people in the country grew poorer" (Lee 132). Harper Lee creates the fictional "tired old town" of Maycomb to reflect her experience of seeing the Scottsboro trial, which started when she was 5 years old (Lee 5). Trial of Tom Robinson=Scottsboro Trial The trial of Tom Robinson and the Scottsboro trial both involve rape. They both occur in Alabama in the 1930s. Tom Robinson:
On the night of November 21, Mr. Tate "was just leaving [his] office to go home when [Bob] Ewell came in, very excited" and said to come to his home immediately (Lee 191). He explained that a black man had raped his daughter, Mayella Ewell. When Mr. Tate got to the Ewell's home, Mr. Ewell explained that he had "found her lying on the floor in the middle of the front room" and she was "pretty well beat up" and she said that Tom Robinson had hurt her (Lee 190). During the trial, Tom Robinson explained his side of the story, and it made more sense then the one that Mayella and Bob Ewell told. Based on Atticus Finch's explaining what he thought probably happened and what Tom Robinson said happened, it is evident that Tom Robinson most likely did not rape Mayella Ewell. Though it made sense that Tom Robinson did not rape her, he was still voted guilty and sentenced to death. Scottsboro:
On March 25, 1931, "a fight breaks out between white and black young men who are riding as hoboes on a Southern Railroad freight train" (Timeline). The train is stopped in Paint Rock, Alabama, and 9 black men are accused of raping two white girls, Victoria Price and Ruby Bates (Timeline). Though Ruby Bates later admitted that she was never raped, and there was evidence that proved that the men were probably innocent, they were still sentenced to death. Most of their death penalties were later reconsidered, but mostly all of them still spent their life in prison.
Harper Lee Harper Lee grew up "in Monroeville Alabama, a city of 7,000 people" (Author Profile: BIO). She was 5 years old when the Scottsboro trial began. Harper Lee had a father that was a lawyer and an older sister. Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird to reflect on her childhood. She created Scout as her, Atticus as her father, and Jem as her older sibling. Through Scout, she shared her experiences of her childhood with the audience. She also shared her views on the Scottsboro trial through Scout's opinion of Tom Robinson's trial. She showed the unfairness of the whole situation through Scout's encounters. PEOPLE Ruby Bates Victoria Price Mayella Ewell in the movie To Kill a Mockingbird Clarence Norris Charles Weems Haywood Patterson Olen Montgomery Ozie Powell Willie Roberson Eugene Williams Roy Wright Andrew Wright (not photographed) Works Cited Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Warner, 1982. Print.

"19-year-old Mayella". Photograph. Google Images.

"American Experience. Scottsboro: An American Tragedy.
Timeline." "PBS". Web. 12 May 2010. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/scottsboro/timeline/index.html>

"Harper Lee". Photograph. Google Images.

"To Kill a Mockingbird. Photograph. Google Images.
Scottsboro: An American Tragedy. Dir. Barak Goodman. Prod. Daniel Anker. WGBH Educational Foundation, 2001. DVD.

"Author Profile: Harper Lee." Teenreads.com. Web. 12 May 2010. <http://www.teenreads.com/authors/au-lee-harper.asp>.
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