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Social Injustices in To Kill a Mockingbird Project

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Lily Daniels

on 12 December 2014

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Transcript of Social Injustices in To Kill a Mockingbird Project

- "Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella opened her mouth and screamed" (241). Both cases involve the torture, agony, and overall suffering of African American men who did no wrong.
- "Judge Taylor is polling the jury: 'guilty... guilty... guilty... guilty'" (211). Both cases involved all-white juries and included plenty of evidence that suggests that the accused were not guilty, and yet both lost their cases.
- "'Mr. Cunningham was part of a mob last night, but he is still a man. Every mob in every town is always made up of people you know'" (160). Both cases have the mob mentality; for the Scottsboro case, it was when the boys exited the train and for Tom Robinson, it takes place outside of the jailhouse.
- "Calpurnia sighed. 'Old Mr. Bob Ewell accused [Tom Robinson] of rapin' his girl'" (124). In both court cases, the defendants were accused of raping poor white women in the south.
Scottsboro Boys and To Kill a Mockingbird Differences
Scottsboro boys and To Kill a Mockingbird Similarities
Emmett Till and
To Kill a Mockingbird
Scottsboro Boys:
-9 men accused, 2 alleged victims
-no known witnesses
-Victoria Price and Ruby Bates falsely accused the 9 men because they saw it as a way to escape going to jail.
-the rape in the Scottsboro case was said to take place in the train.
Emmett Till and
To Kill a Mockingbird
By: Lily Daniels, Manal Shaikh, Matthew Ziemba, Brenna Ryder, Tory Kurt.
English 9A- T/TH Period 1

Social Injustices: To Kill a Mockingbird
Emmett Till:
-fellow African American, very courageous, stands up during trial, to help the Till family.
-trial taking place after the death of Emmett
-Emmett was beaten to death and shot in the head.
-happens in Mississippi
-Emmett was 14
To Kill a Mockingbird
-No African Americans stand up to help Tom Robinson/defend him, because they were scared.
-trial taking place while Tom is still alive
-"The [Prison] guards called to [Tom Robinson] to stop.They fired a few shots in the air, then to kill. They got him just as he went over the fence. They said if he [would] have made it, he was moving too fast. Seventeen bullet holes in him" (240). Tom Robinson was shot 17 times.
-"an unsullied Code of Alabama " (4). Happens in Alabama
-"Tom [is] twenty-five years of age" (190). Tom was 25
-White people took up most of the seats in the trial
-"'[Is Bob] the father of Mayella Ewell?' was the next question [Atticus asked]. Well if [Bob] ain't [he] can't do nothing about it now, her ma's dead,' was the answer [Robert "Bob" Ewell gave]" (Lee, 172). On the other side of the trial, two people were related- Milan & Bryant, and Mayella & Bob
-"[Helen Robinson] had to walk nearly a mile out of her way to avoid the Ewells, who, according to Helen, 'chunked at her' the first time she tried to use the public road" (Lee, 249). Important women in their lives get a lot of hate (Mamie Till and Helen Robinson)
-"Atticus had used every tool available to free men to slave Tom Robinson, but in the secret courts of men's hearts Atticus had no case. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed" (Lee, 241) They knew the African American's side of the case wouldn't win, but they tried anyway.
To Kill a Mockingbird:
1 man accused, one alleged victim
-known witnesses
-Mayella falsely accused Tom Robinson likely because of her troubled childhood and the abuse from her father
-"'[Ran] as fast as [Bob] could but [he] ran into a fence, but when [he] got disentangled [he] [ran] up to [the] window" (175).
The rape in TKAM was said to take place in the victim's house.
Step 2: Lily and Manal
To create Tom Robinson’s case, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird uses aspects of real-life cases that have happened in history. Harper Lee is thought to have used the cases of Emmett Till and the Scottsboro boys to construct a suit where factors of both are present to give her audience a look at the injustice that took place in these courtrooms. During the 1930’s, there was a lot of racial discrimination in the southern United States. By writing the Tom Robinson case, Lee was trying to connect the two stories to create an image to show the audience the prejudice that was going on in the south at the time. Lee wanted to make the two less known stories into one to convey the message of the degree of inequity happening in her backyard. The similarities of the Emmett Till case and the Tom Robinson case are that both include one accuser and one defendant, both had all-white juries, lives of the women in the defendants’ lives were negatively affected, and the accusers had family to accompany them during their trials. The similarities between the Scottsboro case and the Tom Robinson case are that they both have plenty of evidence that suggests that the defendants are innocent, but the defendants of both cases are convicted anyway because of social attitudes of the south at the time. Another similarity between the Scottsboro and Tom Robinson cases is the mob mentality that takes place for the Scottsboro boys, when they exit the train and for Tom Robinson, outside of the jailhouse. The large groups of hateful people were crowding around the men who hadn’t done any wrong simply because they were accused of doing something wrong and because they were African American. Lee included these similarities to prove that the defendants lost their cases dominantly because of social attitudes. There were many reasons why the defendants were innocent, but because the juries were all white, and whites had discriminatory perspectives, the defendants all lost their cases. Lee didn’t include differences such as having more than one defendant, like in the Scottsboro case, most likely because the Emmett TIll case was more recent and she wanted to add a more realistic feel to it by comparing it to a case that was happening at the same time instead of something that happened a couple of decades ago. Another difference is that in the Emmett Till case, his family and friends were there to defend him in his trial because he couldn’t be there. However, in To Kill a Mockingbird, in the case of Tom Robinson, other African-Americans failed to show up to support Tom at the trial out of fear that something may happen to them if they do. Lee failed to include this difference because in the Emmett Till case, he had died and his family was especially driven and that is why they attended the trial. Tom Robinson was able to attend his trial, so if Lee had written that Tom had supporters, it would have made his situation look more hopeful than most of the real-life cases that actually took place. Overall, Lee included a variety of similarities and differences between the three cases to add realism to the story. Lee’s goal was to emphasize to her audience that the unfairness exhibited in her story was happening before their very eyes.
Step 3: Matthew, Brenna, Tory
In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, she presents her opinions on individuals responsibilities in regards to issues on social justice, and principals worth fighting for through her characters.
By using authority figures, such as Atticus, Lee helps readers to understand the principles she believes are worth fighting for. Atticus guides Scout to understand that “because [they are] licked a hundred years before [they] started is no reason for [people] not to try to win” (76). Quotes such as this guide the audience to understand that even if they know something may stand in their way, they must continue to pursue their goal. This can be summarized as ‘do not allow the difficulties to stand in your way’. As the trial against Tom Robinson comes to a close and the verdict is given, Mister Raymond teaches Scout that he is “‘not much of a drinker, but you see they could never, never understand that I live like I do because [that is] the way I want to live’” (201). In a sense, Raymond is fighting indirectly to be able to live the way he pleases. He is aware that the society around him will not accept the way he lives, so he makes it appear as if he is ‘not in his right mind’. By using authority figures, such as Atticus, Lee helps us to understand the principles she believes are worth fighting for.
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