Imagine living in a world where you are viewed differently based on the color of your skin. This is what life was like living in the segregated south. In To Kill a Mockingbird, the author Harper Lee develops certain characters in order to display racial injustice.
In the novel, Tom Robinson is a victim of racial discrimination. The county of Maycomb strongly believes Tom and the rest of the colored population ¨don’t belong anywhere¨ (Lee 163). Citizens in this county refuse to accept Tom as one of their own and presuppose Tom’s character based on his looks. Consequently, Tom’s true character is masked by the racism of the town. As a result of this, throughout the book, Tom is ill-treated both verbally and physically.
Later in the novel, Atticus states “Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth” while speaking to Scout (Lee 241). This statement refers to the county’s belief that Tom had no chance of being proven innocent. The color of his skin allowed him to be convicted without a fair trial, regardless of the situation. Therefore, due to the color of his skin, Tom is a sacrifice in the act of racism.
Throughout the novel, Bob Ewell also highlights racial injustice in Maycomb. However, he is not a victim but an enabler. Bob often uses “foul words” when talking to or describing colored individuals (Lee 182). While he is antagonistic to everyone, Bob principally uses this unpleasant language when referring to Tom Robinson. Bob Ewell uses racism to feel superior to others, causing him to dehumanize colored folk.
Likewise, Bob’s racial discrimination spreads far past colored individuals. After Tom’s trial, Bob was upset and “threatened to kill” Atticus and his kids (Lee 173). Atticus became one of his targets solely after offering guidance to Tom. Bob’s hatred for the colored community runs so deep he must resent even the people who associate themselves with it. As a result, Bob Ewell’s character helps to illustrate the spread of racism across the county of Maycomb.
Racial injustice is displayed in To Kill a Mockingbird, by the development of certain characters. Unfortunately, racism has always played a small part in our society. How can you help to change this outcome and make our world one step closer to an equal society?