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Scottsboro through Harper Lee's Eyes
Transcript of Scottsboro through Harper Lee's Eyes
The parallels between Lee's experience with the Scottsboro trials and Scout's experience with Tom Robinson's trial are evident markers of Scottsboro's influence on Lee. She based To Kill a Mockingbird on the Scottsboro trials, and the similarities are obvious. Every major aspect from the Scottsboro trials is represented in To Kill a Mockingbird. From a child's perspective, Bates would seem like a bad guy. She was one of the two women accusing the Scottsboro boys of rape. However, Ruby Bates was simply following in her partner's footsteps, much like Mayella Ewell. After her father fabricated the rape story, Mayella did not object or deny the story; nor did she add any intricate details. But to a child, none of this is extremely eye-catching. Harper Lee saw that Ruby Bates was falsely accusing nine boys of a rape that never happened and was thus labeled a bad guy. As Lee matured, she gained the whole story and was able to mirror this in To Kill a Mockingbird. Mayella's character, like Bates, was meek and quiet; she did not stand out. She was as much a victim as Tom Robinson. Victoria Price dominated Ruby Bates; she was the opposite of the typical Southern woman. She was a "hard-talking, tobacco-chewing" woman that was afraid to neither lie or cheat to win (Scottsboro). Like Bob Ewell, Price was the main talker of the trials. Both accusers were able to manipulate their stories in their favor. Because Price lacked the compassion to regret her choices, she held on to her story throughout the trials. Similarly, Bob Ewell never let go of his story, even after Atticus had proven that it was false. From Harper Lee's perspective as a child, Victoria Price was the enemy. She was tough and insensible to the pleas of the nine boys. Lee's negative reaction to this is evident in To Kill a Mockingbird because of every aspect of Bob Ewell. He is a poor white man, that has "never worked a day in [his] life;" his poor standards of living and hygiene left him at the lowest social standing (Lee 33). Scottsboro's influence on Lee is that much more obvious by the mirroring choices the Price and Ewell made. It only took a moment for Victoria Price and Ruby Bates to decide to accuse another for their faults. In that moment, both had fabricated a story that would attract the attention of both blacks and whites; Price and Ewell knew when the created their stories that someone would be hurt. However, this was the least of their worries. All that mattered was that the innocent were punished. When word of the black gang reached Paint Rock, an "armed posse" stopped the train (Scottsboro). This lynch mob was armed with "guns...and rope," much like the lynch mob that surrounded Atticus outside the jail (Scottsboro). Both of these mobs created a fuss, however, neither of them actually did anything. They were assembled in response to two different trials: the Scottsboro trials and Tom Robinson's trial. When the nine boys were accused of rape, they, of course, denied it. After vainly trying to prove their innocence, the boys settled with just trying to get out of their punishment. As Harper Lee grew up seeing nine boys in a fight for their lives, she was impacted emotionally more than anything. In response, she wrote created Tom Robinson's character as an ideal combination of all nine Scottsboro boys: a hard worker, determined, and honest. (Harper Lee Biography) Harper Lee expressed her view of the Scottsboro trials by creating a similar situation in To Kill a Mockingbird. (Trials of Scottsboro) The Scottsboro boys' were essentially framed by Price and Bates. Lee's disapproval of this is evident in the parallels between Scottsboro and To Kill a Mockingbird. She created a situation like the Scottsboro one in order to show the injustice involved in false accusations. (Alabama) Victoria Price and Ruby Bates, though friends, had a very different relationship. Price's tough personality dominated Bates's meek one to the point that Bates simply said what Price said. (Seeing Seersucker) Tom Robinson's trial illustrated the same injustice and racism that the Scottsboro trials did. (TKAM) Bob Ewell's hard character overpowered Mayella's quiet one like Price overpowered Bates. Negative often has a bigger influence on someone than positive. Negative can influence us to change or create a change. Harper Lee tries to create a change in To Kill a Mockingbird. She shows the lasting effects that injustice and lies can have on someone, particularly a child. The influence that the Scottsboro trials had on Harper Lee is most noticeable in her writing of To Kill a Mockingbird. By creating the parallels, Lee was able to condense the years of trials into a book to show the injustice of our society. "Biography of Harper Lee | List of Works, Study Guides & Essays | GradeSaver." Study Guides & Essay Editing | GradeSaver. Web. 18 May 2010. <http://www.gradesaver.com/author/harper-lee/>.
Cloke, Chris. "TKAM Soph." TKAM Soph. Web. 18 May 2010. <http://whs.wsd.wednet.edu/Faculty/Cloke/TKAMSoph..html>.
"Harper Lee Biography - Biography.com." Harper Lee Biography. Web. 18 May 2010. <http://www.biography.com/articles/Harper-Lee-9377021>.
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006. Print.
Scottsboro: An American Tragedy. WGBH, 1999. DVD.
"The Scottsboro Boys - Thatsalabama.com." That's Alabama. Web. 18 May 2010. <http://www.thatsalabama.com/civilwrongs/scottsboro/>.
"Seeing Seersucker: Atticus, Lester, and Danville." Daily Yonder. Web. 18 May 2010. <http://www.dailyyonder.com/seeing-seersucker-atticus-lester-and-danville>.
"The Trials of The Scottsboro Boys." UMKC School of Law. Web. 18 May 2010. <http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/scottsboro/scottsb.htm>.