How might the snowman that Jem and Scout make represent race relations in Mayomb?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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While the children's creation of the snowman in Chapter 8 does not directly connect to race relations since Jem and Scout's only experience with African-Americans has been with their maid and surrogate-mother, Calpurnia, whom they love as she loves them, it does further the development of the social consciousness of Maycomb and foreshadow some situations to come in the novel.

As the children construct their snowman, there is not enough snow, so Jem uses dirt, causing Scout to say that she has never heard of a black snowman. But Jem explains that he will not be black for long and finishes him with the white snow, molding him to the shape of Mr. Avery with arms on his wide middle and hips like those of Stephanie Crawford. When they proudly display their creation to Atticus, he laughs, but tells his son, "You've perpetrated a near libel here in the front yard." He instructs the children to alter the appearance of this snowman so that he does not so closely resemble Mr. Avery.

This snowman, which later is transformed into a snow woman, can be interpreted as symbolic of the consideration given to other white people; Jem and Scout are not to offend the neighbors by attacking their appearances. Unfortunately, such concern is not afforded Tom Robinson, who becomes a sacrificial lamb to the status quo of Jim Crow society. The mixing of the black with white foreshadows the racial unrest that occurs after such intermingling.

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