In To Kill a Mockingbird, comment upon freedoms being either expressed or denied.

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Few freedoms are denied the white man in the Deep South of the 1930s, but they are not always extended to Negroes, women or children. Black men and women are still subjected to the Jim Crow laws of the era, and segregation is evident in most facets of their lives. Blacks live in a separate section of Maycomb, worship separately, go to separate schools (although there is actually no mention of a Negroes-only school in Maycomb), and are careful not to trespass on the property of a white man. Scout's narrative doesn't mention many other restrictions that Negroes had to endure, such as segregated restrooms, restaurants, public transportation and even some businesses. There is also the unwritten rule that Negroes must always show a subservient attitude around white men, women and children: During the trial, Tom Robinson is careful to address everyone as "sir," yet the prosecutor repeatedly calls him "boy." Scout and Jem are welcomed at the all-black First Purchase Church, something that would never have been reciprocated if black children had attempted to attend an all-white church.

Women do not yet enjoy full rights of equality with men; although they can vote, they are not yet allowed to serve on juries in Alabama. Children are often blamed for things beyond their control--Mr. Avery rebukes Jem and Scout personally for the unseasonably cold weather that hits Maycomb--and many people blame Atticus for allowing Jem and Scout too much independence and individuality. Little girls, like Scout, are expected to wear dresses all the time, and being a lady is a requisite for all good girls. 

smith1423 | Student

FREEDOM OF SPEECH.  I don't recall many specific examples of freedom of speech being denied, although Scout realizes that, as a child, she is not always welcome to voice her opinion; an example is at the missionary tea, when she holds her tongue while the "ladies" are making fun of her. Jem also holds his tongue during his initial dealings with Mrs. Dubose--before he destroys her camellias. Atticus obviously voices his opinion during his courtroom summation of the Tom Robinson trial; and Miss Maudie always speaks what's on her mind, particularly at the missionary circle tea.

FREEDOM OF WORSHIP.  I don't believe anyone is denied to worship freely, unless you count the fact that Maycomb's Negroes must go to their own church; blacks were not allowed at the white churches. Mr. Radley is devoutly religious, but he rarely attends church. Atticus attends the Methodist church, while Miss Maudie chooses to attend the Baptist church.

FREEDOM FROM WANT.  The Cunninghams are dirt poor, and Walter comes to school without lunch. Bob Ewell spends all of his money on liquor, leaving his kids hungry and dirty. Dill, on the other hand, gets plenty of gifts from his parents; however, he receives little attention from them--the thing he wants most.

FREEDOM FROM FEAR.  Many of the Finch neighbors fear going out late at night because of the rumors of Boo Radley's bloodthirsty nature. Atticus fears that Tom Robinson will be taken from the jail and lynched. The Finch family fears Bob Ewell after he makes threats against Atticus following the trial.


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To Kill a Mockingbird

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