Are there any quotes in to Kill a Mockingbird that suggest white superiority?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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There are many references to white superiority in To Kill a Mockingbird. One of the first comes in Chapter 1 concerning Boo Radley's early run-ins with the law. After stabbing his father in the leg with a pair of scissors, Boo is not restrained in the jail; instead he is "locked in the courthouse basement" since

The sheriff hadn't the heart to put him in jail alongside Negroes.

Miss Stephanie, quoting Mr. Radley, compares Negroes to canines in Chapter 6. After Mr. Radley has fired his shotgun at the trespassers in his back yard (believing it to be a black man and not Jem, Scout and Dill), Miss Stephanie warns them that

"... he's got the other barrel waitin'... be it dog, nigger, or..."

Atticus spells out the black man's plight in Chapter 9 when he tells his brother, Jack, that

"The only thing we've got is a black man's word against the Ewells'... The jury couldn't possibly be expected to take Tom Robinson's word against the Ewells'--"  

Negroes must wait for white people to enter first in the courthouse, and the black people are restricted to sitting in the balcony. When several Negroes begin to enter before the last white people are seated, they receive a warning.

"Whoa now, just a minute... Just don't start up them there steps yet awhile."

Atticus defines the Negro's place in Maycomb society during his summation to the jury.

"... you gentlemen would go along with them on the assumption--the evil assumption--that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral beings, that all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women..."

Jem outlines the Maycomb society status in Chapter 23.

"There's four kinds of people in the world. There's the ordinary kind like us and the neighbors, there's the kind like the Cunninghams out in the woods, the kind like the Ewells down at the dump, and the Negroes."

Other examples:

  • Scout, and Atticus, are put down by white people who call them "nigger-lovers."
  • There is the mention of the Ku Klux Klan in Chapter 15.
  • Mr. Gilmer, the prosecutor, repeatedly refers to Tom Robinson as "boy."

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