To Kill a Mockingbird and WWII
In what way is To Kill A Mockingbird analogous to what happened to the Jews in World War II?
The parallel between how African Americans were treated in Maycomb and how the Jews were treated at the hands of the Germans is very clear. I think it's interesting, though, and encouraging that another parallel can be drawn. Despite the prevailing racist culture in Maycomb and the dangerous political climate in Germany, there were individuals in both places who risked their own safety to save the innocent.
Atticus took on Tom Robinson's case knowing that it was a difficult and even dangerous undertaking. He was proved right when Bob Ewell attacked his children. There were others in Maycomb who supported Atticus and tried to help--people like Miss Maudie, Judge Taylor, and Heck Tate.
Similarly, there were people of conscience in Europe during World War II who defied the German laws that persecuted Jewish men, woman, and children. They risked their lives to hide Jews and sometimes to smuggle them out of harm's way.
In Maycomb and in Europe, there were good people who chose to stand up against cruelty and terrible injustice.
Unfortunately, it all boils down to prejudice. There are two cases to which parallels can be drawn. First, Tom Robinson is condemned regardless of his obvious innocence simply because of his skin color. The evidence has clearly shown with his personality and temperment as well as his childhood injury, that he is not the person who raped and beat Mayella Ewell. However, because of racial tensions and the fact that Mayella is white, Tom is found guilty and waits for sentencing.
Second, the Ewells are similarly looked down upon because of their poverty and because of the relationship between father and daughter. The Ewells do not earn the respect of the community through the trial of Tom Robinson. They are sided with temporarily only because of the color of their skin. No one visits the Ewells because they are poor, they live on the edge of colored town, and Mr. Ewell is sexually active with his daughter. All of these things bring shame and discomfort to the Ewell name. Therefore, he blames Tom for his faults and he knows the community will back him on it. It is for this reason that Mr. Ewell pledges to get back at Atticus Finch. Atticus dares to speak the truth in court, thus speaking the unspeakable, taboo subject aloud.
As Tom and the Ewells are shunned and considered outcasts because of skin color and poverty, so were the Jews turned away simply because of their religion.
The attitudes towards Blacks is similar but not as harrowing for Jews during WWII. The fact that the Ewells were looked down upon also has some resemblance to WWII but not to the degree that Jews lost their property and had the most heinous things done to them.
What Hitler and his supporters did to Jews during World War II, was nothing short of officially executed mass murder. I am not sure if there are any incidents in history to match the magnitude of this crime. Of course there have have been other similar incidents like persecution of Protestants by Queen Mary of England in mid-sixteenth century, but none to match the persecution of Jews by Hitler in terms of number of people who died and suffered in many other ways.
In comparison the racial discrimination depicted in To Kill a Mockingbird is about attitudes and prejudices of common people. These racial prejudices and unjust actions cannot be condoned on any grounds, but at the same time we cannot put all the people with such prejudices in same category as Hitler. Most of those people with racial prejudices depicted in the book are definitely on the wrong side, but it will be a mistake to call all of them as evil like Hitler and his team responsible for those mass murders.