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I think that author Harper Lee shows that racism was a common fact of life in Alabama during the 1930s. Segregation was the norm: Whites and blacks lived on different sides of town; they attended separate churches and schools; and blacks were restricted from congregating at many other stores and public events. Racism wasn't restricted to adults. Scout uses the "N" word regularly until Atticus cautions her about it, calling it "common." We can assume that most white citizens of the town use the "N" word, too; Atticus, Miss Maudie and some of their friends seem to be the acception, not the rule. Nor was racism restricted to white people: Lula shows her contempt of white folks when Calpurnia brings Jem and Scout to her all-black church. The verdict in the Tom Robinson trial becomes the greatest example of how black people are truly second (or third) class citizens: The word of Bob Ewell, the "disgrace of Maycomb," is taken over that of Tom, and the jury disregards factual evidence to convict the black man. Jem's description of Maycomb's social pecking order is accurate: There are people like the Finches, the Cunninghams, the Ewells and, last, the Negroes.
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