What are 3 quotes from the book that show racial discrimination in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Three examples of racism are the townspeople bullying Atticus's children, the lynch mob that tries to kill Tom Robinson before his trial, and Mr. Raymond pretending to be drunk so people won't question his marriage to a black woman.

Atticus's children bullied by children and adults alike because their father is defending a black man.

Scout comments that she has been bullied at school by kids who are annoyed that her father is defending a black man.

"Do all lawyers defend n-Negroes, Atticus?"

"Of course they do, Scout." (ch 9)

Cecil tells Scout, “My folks said your daddy was a disgrace” (ch 9) and even her own cousin Francis picks fights with her about it. 

It is not just children.  Mrs. Dubose tells Scout that her “father's no better than the … trash he works for!" (ch 11)

The entire town seems to turn against Atticus and his children because he is defending Tom Robinson, a black man accused of attacking a white woman.  The fact that adults and children are attacking Scout and Jem with words and fists demonstrates how deeply rooted racism is in the town of Maycomb.

A lynch mob tries to kill Tom Robinson before he can come to trial.

Scout, Dill, and Jem see their father sitting outside the Maycomb county jail, and go to investigate.  Soon, a lynch mob of white men arrives to kill Tom Robinson.  Atticus has been protecting him.

I thought they must be cold-natured, as their sleeves were unrolled and buttoned at the cuffs. Some wore hats pulled firmly down over their ears. They were sullen-looking, sleepy-eyed men who seemed unused to late hours. (ch 15)

The men are ready to attack Atticus to get to Tom Robinson.  They even threaten Jem and Scout.  It is not until Scout’s innocent chatter brings them back to their senses that they finally leave.  This demonstrates the lack of maturity in the racism the town displays.

Mr. Raymond pretends he is drunk so people can explain the fact that he married a black woman and lives with her.

Mr. Raymond has a reputation for being drunk.  He cultivates this reputation carefully, coming into town rarely and weaving like a drunk while drinking out of a bottle in a paper bag.  He explains to Scout, Jem and Dill why he does this.

Secretly, Miss Finch, I'm not much of a drinker, but you see they could never, never understand that I live like I do because that's the way I want to live. (ch 20)

The fact that a man would pretend to be drunk just so he could live with the woman he loves and have children with her is a perfect example of the clear racism prevalent in Maycomb.  Mr. Raymond knows that the people of Maycomb won’t understand him, so he gives them something to understand.


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To Kill a Mockingbird

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