How did the community of Maycomb take its first step toward emerging from its racist past, and how is it depicted in To Kill a Mockingbird?
What are the incidents of racism in the town of Maycomb and situations that prove that the people involved have overcome racism?
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I'm not so sure that Maycomb has made any great leaps forward in their progress to end racism in the town. Instead, as Miss Maudie puts it,
"... we're making a step--it's just a baby-step, but it's a step." (Chapter 22)
Atticus is not able to convince the jury to acquit Tom Robinson despite the overwhelming evidence that pointed to his innocence. Following Tom's death, the town is only "interested by the news... for perhaps two days..." The trial had not changed their view of Negroes.
To Maycomb, Tom's death was typical. Typical of a nigger to cut and run. Typical of a nigger's mentality to have no plan, no thought for the future... Nigger always comes out in 'em. (Chapter 25)
But there had been a "baby-step" taken by members of the town. Atticus had managed to convince one of the jurors--a Cunningham who had been one of the lynch mob that attempted to take Tom from the jail--to at least hold out for a short time in support of Tom's acquittal. Link Deas stood up for Tom's widow, threatening Bob Ewell with arrest if he continued to stalk her. B. B. Underwood, who "despises Negroes, won't have one near him," defends Tom in a heartfelt newspaper editorial, calling his death a "senseless killing." Jem and Scout (and Dill) are sickened by the guilty verdict and Tom's death, and Scout has taken Atticus's advice to stop using the "N" word. Perhaps the biggest step comes when Sheriff Tate decides to call Ewell's death self-inflicted: He risks his own reputation to protect Boo Radley, making an attempt to even the score for Tom's death.
"There's a black boy dead for no reason, and the man responsible for it's dead. Let the dead bury the dead this time, Mr. Finch." (Chapter 30)
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