How does author Harper Lee address these social issuses in To Kill a Mockingbird? Poverty, crime, racism,and injustice.

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

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Poverty.  Virtually everyone in Maycomb is poor, and it leaves both whites and blacks in a similar predicament:

There was... nothing to buy and no money to buy it with...  (Chapter 1)

It is worse for the people of Old Sarum, who grow their own food but have no money in which to pay their bills, and they are reduced to a lower social status in the minds of people like Aunt Alexandra, who believe people like the Cunninghams and Ewells are "trash."

Crime.  Boo Radley is blamed for most of the "stealthy small crimes committed in Maycomb." Although Maycomb seems to be a place where people can sleep safelyy without locking their doors at night, those who are found guilty are dealt with severely. Boo and his friends pay for their youthful night of frolic in different ways, and it leads to a sentence of permanent home confinement for Boo. Prowlers are shot at, children receive punishment when necessary (the stealing of Misses Tutti and Frutti's furniture), and Tom pays for his accused indiscretion with his life.

Racism.  Racism is a fact of life in 1930s Maycomb. African Americans are considered second-class citizens by most of the white people in the town, and their position is understood by the black inhabitants as well. The "N" word is used by many of the characters, including Atticus's own children; it is not always uttered in a hateful way, but often in a matter-of-fact manner, such as by Scout and Calpurnia. Atticus knows that this form of hatred will eventually come to a head:

"Don't fool yourselves--it's all adding up and one of these days we're going to pay the bill for it. I hope it's not in you children's time."  (Chapter 23)

Injustice.  Injustice comes in many different forms: racial prejudice against black people; second-class status toward women and children; and the social scorn aim at poor people and outsiders. It is also found in the jury verdict: In the "human institution" in which "all men are created equal," the jury turned its back on justice--"in the secret courts of men's hearts, Atticus had no case."

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