In the book, To kill a Mockingbird, why are so many in Maycomb racist and disrespectful against black people ( Negroes) ?To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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With the setting of Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird in the Southern town of Maycomb, modeled after Monroeville, Alabama, during the Great Depression, Jim Crow Laws were in effect.  These laws prohibited blacks from living in certain parts of town; they could not walk on sidewalks where a white person walked, but must step down.  Everything was segregated such as the public restrooms and schools, restaurants, churches, courthouses, movie theaters, etc. Ordinances were made "in order to prevent incidents, tension, and disorder."  Many a law was made regarding miscegenation, as well. In short, descendants of former slaves were kept in their own communities and separated in public places so that there would be no mixing of the races.  Since the prevailing attitude was that one race was superior to the other race that had once been in slavery, white people of the town of Maycomb believe that they are superior to blacks.  And, the blacks go along with the Jim Crow laws because they are afraid of being hanged or punished in some way. With this established way of things, many of the young people and children are raised with the same attitude that the Negro is an inferior being.

Of course, among the population in Maycomb there are those who do not agree with the Jim Crow Laws.  Atticus Finch is one; Mr. Raymond Dolphus and Miss Maudie are others.

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