Explain Atticus' statements (in To Kill a Mockingbird) about the following: "When its a white man's word against a black man's, the white man always wins."  

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Atticus' statement, in To Kill a Mockingbird, "When its a white man's world against a black man's, the white man always wins" refers to one of the main themes which runs the entirety of the novel. Prejudice is a very important theme within the novel. The fact that Atticus (a white man) is defending a black man, Tom Robinson, has put the town in an uproar.

The statement Atticus makes refers to the fact that white men hold the power in the world. Atticus, regardless of his position defending Tom, understands this belief in Maycomb (and the rest of the South). Atticus is defining the fact that, no matter what, if it a black man against a white man, the white man will always win (regardless if the white man is at fault). For Atticus, this allows him to explain why the people of Maycomb are so against Tom Robinson. Even if Tom did not rape Mayella Ewell, the fact that the charges were made against Tom is enough for the people to find him guilty--simply based upon the color of his skin.


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