How can I write an essay, including thesis statement and body paragraphs, on the topic of the causes and effects of racism in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Racism is one of the major themes in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. In writing your essay about the causes and effects of racism, you will want to focus on the character of Tom Robinson, a black man who is falsely accused of rape and defended by Atticus Finch ...

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Racism is one of the major themes in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. In writing your essay about the causes and effects of racism, you will want to focus on the character of Tom Robinson, a black man who is falsely accused of rape and defended by Atticus Finch.

To organize your essay, you might want to state a general thesis about how the novel views the causes, effects, and nature of racism in your introduction, and then devote each body paragraph or main section of your essay to discussing the causes and effects of racism on individual characters

For your thesis, you might argue that the major cause of racism in the novel is fear, especially on the part of white people, and introduce the concept of "white privilege." You could support this with the following quote, in which Atticus Finch explains to Scout:

... nigger-lover is just one of those terms ... ignorant, trashy people use ... when they think somebody's favoring Negroes over and above themselves. 

The first body paragraph should discuss Robinson and his attitudes towards race. In this paragraph, you should emphasize how kind he has been to Mayella Ewell. As Robinson is tried and lynched primarily because he is black, you can talk about him as an example of the effects of racial prejudice on black people.

Your next paragraphs should discuss Robert and Mayella Ewell and why they might resent a black man who better exemplified the virtues of a gentleman than Robert and why Robert, himself a violent and shiftless alcoholic, might see Robertson as a threat to his white privilege. 

Next, you might look individually at the jury in Robinson's trial and Braxton Bragg Underwood and try to understand why they might feel threatened by blacks in general. 

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