To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird book cover
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How is the poem "I, Too" related to the theme of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Both Langston Hughes' "I, Too" and To Kill A Mockingbird are centrally concerned with the theme of racism in America.

In Hughes' poem, the black speaker insists that he too is an American, despite being treated as a second-class citizen by whites. He writes,

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes...

Nevertheless, he states, he laughs, eats, and grows strong. He envisions a time when whites realizes how beautiful he is, don't send him from the table, and feel ashamed of how they once treated him.

In To Kill a Mockingbird, black people like Calpurnia and Tom Robinson are also regarded as second-class citizens. The racial divide is so strong that the word of a white person is always accepted over the word of a black person in a court of law, no matter how ludicrous the white person's claims might be.

When Tom Robinson is accused of raping Mayella Ewell, the jury decides he is guilty, even though Atticus has proven that he couldn't have raped Mayella the way she describes because of his withered arm. Justice is not served, but the white people in the town, especially Bob Ewell, have to face the way they were shamed by Atticus, and the black people in the courtroom rise with respect as Atticus passes them. This novel, like the poem, looks forward to a better time when more white people will behave as Atticus did and justice for black people will prevail.

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