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What are some unwritten social codes from the 1930's that were found in To Kill a...

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disneygeek14 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 27, 2012 at 6:36 AM via web

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What are some unwritten social codes from the 1930's that were found in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 27, 2012 at 8:28 AM (Answer #1)

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UNWRITTEN SOCIAL CODES IN TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

Segregated... Everything!  Blacks and whites were segregated in just about every regard in the 1930s, especially in the Deep South. Although it was not specifically illegal, African Americans usually lived in separate areas; in Maycomb, it was in the Quarters. Blacks and whites attended different churches, sat in separate areas in the courtroom, and only socialized among the people of their own color. People who did not do so, such as Dolphus Raymond, were considered outcasts. Although not specifically mentioned in the novel, there were also rules considering segregation of stores, public restrooms, water fountains, schools, and public transportation.

Blacks as Second-Class Citizens.  It was perfectly normal in the South for a white man to address a black man as "nigger" or "boy," as was seen during the questioning of Tom by the prosecutor, Mr. Gilmer, and by the testimony given by the Ewells. However, it would have been much different had a black man spoken in a disrespectful manner to a white man. Such a social faux pas may have resulted in a visit from the KKK or a lynch mob, much like the one that confronted Atticus at the jail. African Americans were careful to address a white man as "sir" or "mister;" and when white spectators entering the courtroom ordered the black men and women to wait until all of the white folks were inside, the Negroes obediently did so. As Scout narrated during the trial, no Negro would set foot on a white man's property without permission, and it was a social no-no for a black man to enter a white man's house--as Tom Robinson found out the hard way.

Women as Second-Class Citizens.  Although there were some laws that restricted women's rights (women in Alabama were eligible to vote but not serve on juries), women--and particularly Southern women--were not expected to take part in many male-dominated areas. Few women were expected to work, and they were often not included in political discussions.

Skinnydipping.  When Jem and Dill decided to go skinnydipping at Barker's Eddy, Scout was not invited. It would not have been acceptable for proper boys and girls to skinnydip together.

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