To Kill a Mockingbird Analysis
In Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, several important themes emerge, not the least of which deals with racial tensions in the early-20th century. Atticus Finch, a lawyer, is working to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman. The novel provides an in-depth look at the one-sidedness that often appears in instances of racial tension. For example, when the largely white town of Macomb finds out that Atticus is defending Tom, he and his family are subjected to social ostracism and abuse. At the same time, when Calpurnia, the cook for the Finch family, takes the children to her black church, they are welcomed warmly and kindly; they are welcomed in much the same way when they sit in the “colored section” of the balcony in the courtroom.
Building upon this theme is the idea of the absence of justice. At the start of the trial, a lynch mob came to the jailhouse to, presumably, murder him. Members of the town were prepared to be judge, jury, and executioner, depriving a man of his right to due process. Even then, despite a strong defense presented by Atticus in Tom’s trial, he is still found guilty by the all-white jury; Tom Robinson, a black man accused of assaulting a white woman, never stood a chance. When Tom tries to escape prison, knowing he is innocent, he is shot and killed. The justice system failed him, and his faith in ever getting treated fairly had disappeared. This course of events stands as a stark reflection of the mistreatment of African Americans in society and the judicial system for generations.