What effect does the racism displayed in To Kill A Mockingbird have upon the major characters? Just some ideas would be very helpful.Thank you.

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Atticus is used to the racism that abounds in Maycomb, but he is colorblind when it comes to issues concerning blacks and whites. When Scout asks her father if he is a "nigger-lover," Atticus responds

"I certainly am. I do my best to love everbody... I'm hard put sometimes--"

Even though Scout is uncertain what a "nigger-lover" is, she recognizes that it is an insult, and she finds it hard to control her temper when her friends use the term in regard to Atticus. Scout slowly learns that using the "N" word is "common," and she stops when Atticus forbids her from saying it. Her relationship with Calpurnia and her visit to Cal's church teaches her that people--black and white--aren't so different.

The jury's verdict in the Tom Robinson trial affects both Jem and Scout. Both of them recognize that Tom could not have committed the crimes of which he is accused, and they come to the conclusion that the all-white jury has simply sided with the Ewells' story. Jem is particularly upset with the verdict, and he believes that juries should be abolished. Scout is puzzled by the racism displayed by the women at the Missionary Circle tea, who sympathize with the Mruna tribe in Africa but not with the Negroes living in Maycomb. Scout also sees the hypocrisy exhibited by Miss Gates, who criticizes Hitler for his persecution of the Jews, but shows a darker side when it comes to whites and blacks socializing in Maycomb.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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