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To Kill a Mockingbird - Historical Context

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on 5 February 2018

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Transcript of To Kill a Mockingbird - Historical Context

Women were expected to work in the home
Men were expected to be providers and work
outside the home
1. Not considered to be capable of nurturing children
2. Expected to be "tough" - discouraged from showing emotions
To Kill a

Historical Context
The Great Depression
Main Characters
Miss Maudie
1. Stock market crash

Droughts led to dust storms that destroyed crops, causing many farmers to lose their farms.
2. Dust Bowl
Herbert Hoover was president when the Depression hit
His philosophy:
Things got so bad that some families were forced to live in tent towns.
He started the “New Deal," which began to bring people relief and aid.
1. Blacks were treated as second class citizens

2. Most public places were segregated
Jim Crow laws enforced segregation in the south

The young girl who acts in such a manner as to attract attention in public; who speaks loudly, and jokes and laughs and tells stories, . . . who expresses opinions on all subjects with self-confidence, is rightly regarded by all thoughtful and cultivated people as one of the most disagreeable and obnoxious characters to be met with in society.
From a book on manners (1920)
Hitler is

1. Jews were removed from all
government, state, and cultural
Boo Radley
Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR)
3. Bank Closures
Banks make money by lending money, but with so many people suddenly jobless and broke, people were unable to pay back their loans.
Failure of the justice system:
1. In many southern states, Blacks could not serve on a jury

2. Racism was so rampant that it was almost impossible to receive a fair trial in the south
The Scottsboro Boys
Emmett Till
Eventually these types of injustices mobilized the Civil Rights Movement, but at the time of our story, segregation was largely accepted as a way of life.
Gender roles
Grew up in Monroeville, Alabama
Her town was very similar to the town described
in her novel - and her fictional town also starts with the letter M
Or semi-autobiographical?
By: Harper Lee

Born in 1926
The setting of the book is the early 1930's, and the narrator (Scout) is the same age as Harper Lee was at that time in history

Her father was a lawyer
The narrator's father is a lawyer, and this is very significant to the plot
Many had borrowed on credit to buy the stocks, so now they were also in debt to their creditor
Many American lost all of their savings and investments
People also panicked and withdrew all of their money from the bank. Banks would run out of money and have to close. If you had an account there when they closed, you lost your money!
People lost their savings if their bank
went bankrupt. Surviving banks could not
afford to make any loans.
People could not afford to buy
anything extra, which caused many
factories and businesses to shut down, causing even more people to
lose their jobs.
Since so many people were out of
work, tax revenue went down,
so schools and other government
services shut down due to lack of funds.
This, of course, put even more people out
of work.
The markets Would eventually correct themselves
Private Charities Should help those in need
The Government should not be delivering aid to individuals
Nine black teenage boys were falsely accused of rape in Alabama in 1931. The case included a frame up, an attempted lynching, angry mobs, and a complete miscarriage of justice as an all-white jury sentenced the men to death despite abundant evidence of their innocence.
Growing Up
14-year-old Emmett Till allegedly "flirted" with a white woman in Mississippi. That night several men kidnapped him from his home and brutally murdered him.
2. Jews were segregated in
restaurants and schools.
3. Jews were required to wear a
Star of David on their clothing
and were given a curfew
Can you think of any similarities between how Jews
were being treated in Europe and how Blacks were being treated in the South?
They were referred to as “Hoovervilles” because of President Hoover’s lack of help during the depression.
New President in 1933
Pay attention as you read the first chapter of the novel - you will hear that famous quote from FDR, and it helps to date the story.
1. Considered "weaker" and "less intelligent" than men
2. Not allowed to vote until 1920
3. Not allowed to serve on juries
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