What are some examples from To Kill a Mockingbird relating to this topic: "Racisim is a product of cowardice--regardless of skin color." Discuss.

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Just as the Ku Klux Klan practiced its reign of terror under the cover of darkness, evil is often found in this manner in To Kill a Mockingbird. Probably the two most obvious examples are found in the character of Bob Ewell and in the actions of the lynch mob. Ewell prowls about Maycomb at night, and he is undoubtedly the culprit nearly discovered by Judge Taylor cutting the screen door on his back porch. It is meant as a reprisal for the judge making "him look like a fool" during the trial of Tom Robinson. Ewell's racial hatred of Tom extends to the men who defended and adjudicated him--Taylor and Atticus--and he uses darkness to cover his actions. It is also at night when Ewell makes his cowardly attack on the children after the Halloween pageant. The mob of men from Old Sarum also wait until after dark to come for Tom at the jail, but Atticus's bold stand--aided by the arrival of the three childran--shame the men into leaving empty-handed. The jury's unjustified guilty verdict against Tom also comes at night, well after 11 p.m. Another example comes when Nathan Radley fires his shotgun at whom he believes to be a Negro trespasser on the night the three kids make their raid on the Radley's back porch. Had he known it was only Jem, Scout and Dill, he would not have taken such action.

Cousin Francis is another character whe exemplifies the cowardly racist. Although he is too young to know better, he must have learned to hate from his own parents, and when he calls Scout (and Atticus) a "nigger-lover," he runs to the safety of his grandmother's skirts. The women of the Missionary Circle practice their own brand of racism under the guise of religion and in the safety of Atticus's house. Bob Ewell also resorts to taunting Tom's wife, Helen, in broad daylight, but always from a distance and always while trailing behind her. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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