Racism in To Kill A Mockingbird? I'm writing an essay with three focal points and racism is one of them. I've tried many, but my English teacher says they're not long/rich enough. Could someone give me an example paragraph for an essay (with topic sentence, examples, techniques, etc)? Preferably pretty long. Thank-you so much. I will be eternally grateful. :)

Expert Answers

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It sounds like you need more textual examples.  When writing an essay about a novel, it is important to provide specific examples from the text.  You want to do this in the form of quotations, usually.  Since you are drawing on the book as evidence, you want to let the book speak for itself.  It is also very important to provide an explanation for the quotations you have chosen.  This will give you the richness and depth you need.  Rather than giving you a paragraph, I will show you how to write one.

It seems like racism is just one of the topics in your essay.  Since I don’t know what the other two are I cannot advise you on them, but make sure the three tie together in one thesis.  For example, if you are writing about a certain theme, racism might be one of the elements that brings it out.

Racism is a complex issue in To Kill a Mockingbird.  I suggest beginning by choosing at least 2 solid quotations about the issue of race in the book.  Miss Maudie makes an interesting comment in chapter 22, after the verdict is returned.

Atticus Finch won’t win, he can’t win, but he’s the only man in these parts who can keep a jury out so long in a case like that. And I thought to myself, well, we’re making a step—it’s just a baby-step, but it’s a step.” (ch 22)

Consider the significance of this quote.  Why did I choose it?  First of all, it’s relatively short.  Avoid long quotes.  Second of all, it is a commentary on racism by a character.  It also focuses on a specific element of racism.  Atticus “can’t win” due to racism, but he was able to get the jury to consider the case without race as an issue, if even briefly.  That is the “baby-step” toward equality that Miss Maudie mentions.


If you were going to write this into a paragraph, you would begin with a topic sentence explaining how racism relates to your thesis.  Then introduce the quote, related to your thesis.  Then the quote.  Then explain and comment on the quote as it relates to the overall thesis of the essay.  Follow that up with your second quote, and then a conclusion and you’re home free.  Some the sample paragraph outline is (note that they don’t all have to be separate sentences, but they can be):


  1. Topic sentence relating racism to thesis.
  2. Introduction of quote 1 related to racism.
  3. Quote 1
  4. Explanation of quote 1
  5. Commentary on quote 1, related back to your thesis.
  6. Introduction of quote 2 related to racism.
  7. Quote 2
  8. Explanation of quote 2
  9. Commentary on quote 2, related back to your thesis.
  10. Conclusion relating both quotes to racism and thesis.




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