What can you infer about the position of Negroes in society in 1930s in America as defined in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird?

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If looking at the inferences which can be made about the position of Negroes during the 1930s (per Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird), one can assume that people of color were not regarded as having any important position at all.

During this time, there were many people who did not even regard people of color as human, let alone American. As a result, people of color who came under pressure of the white community (as Tom Robinson does in the novel) tended not to fair very well.

Therefore, inferences which can be made regarding the novel's stand (not Lee's) is that people of color were treated unfairly during the time. Tom Robinson was regarded as guilty simply because of the color of his skin. He was not given a fair chance prior to the trial (or even before--he was simply judged as guilty as soon as the accusations came out).


Well, African Americans in the United States suffered from major descrimination from the time of the civil war to the mid 1960's. The majority of the white race in America considered themselves superior to African Americans for decades. The 1930's and the great depression only made the descrimination worse. White people were able to get more jobs and keep them longer in the depression then African Americans. This was due to heavy prejudice from employers. 


It did not help that hundreds of African Americans were accused (by white people) of crimes they never commited. This is exactly what happened to Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird. He was unfairly accused of raping Mayella Ewell because of his race. This happened outside the work of fiction as well (Scottsboro boys).

Most juries were made up of white men until the 1960's and 70's. These pressumably prejudiced all-white juries more often then not declared the accused African American guilty. The accused in this case was declared guilty because of his/her race.


It is a very sad concept to think about. I apologize if this did not help a whole lot, it is all that I can think of at the moment. :-)

tim16 | Student

Many of them worked in fields, sometimes the same plantations their ancestors worked as slaves.. they lived in poor towns on the outskirts of larger white communities.. in the 30's and 40's many started moving north to look for more industrial jobs. Poor.. unfairly treated a lot I suppose.

tim16 | Student

well During the 1930s black were already discriminated against and when the country hit the Great Depression it only got worse. White male employment was the first priority to many so blacks would have a hard time finding jobs. They often lived in the poorest districts and were paid less than white people doing the same job.Life for blacks in the 1930's has been descibed as an "american hell" but it wasnt just the 1930's, basically from 1863 to 1965. the conditions in that time period were basically the same for blacks.in 1930 blacks had no civil rights, land ownership was possible but very limited. for instance if a black family "owned" land, the white people could take it if the saw a use for it. blacks were not allow to serve in any political positions on any level.formal education was not given to blacks. it was illegal for blacks to read books or go to any school or library. if caught reading you could be hung or face jail time.the only jobs that blacks could perform was work in the house of exslave owners doing "chores" like cleaning washing and farm/ yard work or cooking. but they were not allowed to live in the exslave owner's house. instead they were sent to live in a barn- like structure or a 1-2 room shack with no heat or lamps. most were not allowed to eat the best food, they were fed straps , i.e. pig feet ears, knee bones, pigtails. intestines... that type of stuff along with some veggies off the farm.the threat of violence was a everyday possibility. multiple hanging, lynchings, and being burn on the cross was happening, most of the violence against blacks were done at the hands of the white police, mosty the local sheriff or the pastor of a church, and othe peopl of authority.there have been several accounts of white sheriffs breaking in the homes of black families and raped the women and children at gun point.other tactics were used to futher oppress the black people. name calling like animal, the "n" word, spook, monkey, tar monster, savage, jiggaboo, among other things,blacks were forced to say "yes sir" and 'Yes ma'am" to small white kids.40% of the lynchings that happened to blacks where because of the false accusations from white women. the white man would beat or rape his wife / girlfriend.. and then accuse a black person of the act just to protect her spouse.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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