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From Scottsboro to Maycomb

The examination of the effect of the Scottsboro trials on the book To Kill a Mockingbird
by

kane killen

on 18 May 2010

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Transcript of From Scottsboro to Maycomb

From Scottsboro to Maycomb Why is it that children seem to be the only ones that can see the truth? This is mostly contributed to the innocence of children. Their minds have not been numbed down by all the useless junk in the world. They ask the questions that need to be asked, no matter who it may offend, and demand answers. Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, was only five years old when the Scottsboro trials began in 1931 (timeline). At this age Lee still had her innocence and could see the injustice done to these boys. This injustice did not sit well with Lee. Lee's noticing of this serves as her exigence in writing this book. Years later, during the cival rights movement, Lee decides to publish a book bashing unjust and unfair behavior. Coincedence? I think not. Scottsboro Trials To Kill a Mockingbird Both Local Lawyer Out of town lawyer Originally appointed bad lawyer Appointed best lawyer Nine accused rapist One Two victims One "victim" The beholder is young Black men accused of raping white women At least one crippled defendent "White trash" women Unjustly sentenced to death All white juries (Scottsboro) (Mockingbird) (Scottsboro/Mockingbird) Age is important because, as mentioned before, through the eyes of children the truth can be seen. In To Kill a Mockingbird the beholder is obviously Scout, but in the case of the Scottsboro trials, the beholder is considered to be Harper Lee because she was living in a smalltown in Alabama when it happened. She experienced the trials firsthand and therefore has a very good understanding of whats going on. In both situations, the beholder can see the truth and injustice. Neither one likes the situation, but they have to tolerate it (Lee throughout). Yes, it is possible, but the odds of Lee randomly choosing to write about a black man being accused rape by a white trash woman based in the same time period and state are too high to be readily believable that this is a coincedence. This leads one to believe that her book was, in fact, based off the trials because she witnesses the injustice done and wants people to know about it. She understands the trials and therefore it is easily used as her outline. When modeling her story after the Scottsboro trials, Lee did not even worry about even greatly changing some details. One of the Scottsboro boys, Willie Robertson, was physically impossible of rape because of his cyphylis and gonorrhea (plus he was moderately retarded) and Olen Montgomery was almost blind (People and Events). In To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom Robinson was physically impossible of leaving bruises on the right side of Mayella's face because he lacked the ability to move his "rubber like" left arm (Lee 216). In both cases these amazing pieces of evidence were simply overlook in the jury process.
In the Scottsboro trials Ruby Bates and Victoria Price claim that they have been raped (Scottsboro). It is specualted that they did this because no matter how low somebody is, and these girls were very low, if they are black and harmed by whites, then they automatically become respectable white people (Scottsboro). Bates and Price were both hopping on the train just like the blacks and decided it would be a good idea to fake being raped (Scottsboro). In Mayella Ewell's case Tom was walking past her house to get to his which was close by when Mayella became so trashy that she was willing to invite in a black man and try to sleep with him. These last two similarities is where it really starts to matter. These respectable black men who were falsely accused of rape where all treated to juries consisting of all white men (Scottsboro, Lee). In the 1930s in Alabama a black man stood no chance at getting an innocent verdict if the jury consist of nothing but white people. This is just the beginning of the unjustness. When the verdicts were returned as guilty, no one could believe their ears in either case. The defendents had so much evidence corroborating their stories while the accusers only had the testimonies of the alledged raped (Scottsboro/Mockingbird). If these men were white then they would have been of scotch free. By this time Lee had realized that the blacks getting convicted of these crimes was completely unjust. This unjustness is what drove her to write her novel. She wanted to get the idea of unjustness out there and a novel seemed like the best idea. SHe had probably noticed things unjust outside of the case, but the case provided a plot-line that most people can follow and allowed her to publish her thoughts. accused rapist Bibliography
"American Experience | Scottsboro: An American Tragedy | People & Events." PBS. Web. 12 May 2010. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/scottsboro/peopleevents/index.html>.

Digital image. Birmingham Chamber. Web. 17 May 2010. <http://www.birminghamchamber.com/visiting/images-fun%20facts/MaryBadham.jpg>.

Digital image. Film Dope. Web. 17 May 2010. <http://www.filmdope.com/Gallery/ActorsW/18352-19714.gif>.

Digital image. Like Television. Web. 17 May 2010. <http://tesla.liketelevision.com/liketelevision/images/lowrez/brockpeters2.jpg>.

Digital image. Myopia. Web. 17 May 2010. <http://www.myopia.org/child.jpg>.

Digital image. San Marcos. Web. 17 May 2010. <http://www.sanmarcos.net/ana/Class/Eng2/ScottPriceBates.jpg>

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006. Print.

Scottboro: An American Tragedy. Dir Barak Goodman Prod.
Daniel Ahker. WGBH Educational Foundation 2001. DVD In conclusion... In all of Harper Lee's innocence, she was able to see how unfair whites were to blacks. Not only in the case of the Scottsboro boys, but in the way they were treated in general. Even though most of the people around her were very racist and did not believe that black people were worth as much as white people. Lee did not think that this was right. She thought that everyone needed to know about this injustice, especially with the Cival Rights movement going full force, and this was why she decided to write To Kill a Mockingbird. She decided that since her views were influenced by the trials, her novel should be too.
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