What are at least two ways the movie A Time to Kill shows that some things have not changed in the South, especially in terms of race?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In addition to the strong points brought out in the previous answer, I would add that one element seen in the film that is evident today is the convergence of "outside" sources that takes place in the light of a controversial event.  In the film, Carl's trial becomes a national spectacle with outsiders converging in the town.  This works on both sides as the ACLU comes in along with the Klan.  This was also seen in the Trayvon Martin case, and still is, to a great extent. There are times when the isolated event of a small setting captures national imagination and snowballs with these outside influences becoming prominent players in a local event.  This is seen in the film.  I would add that one more parallel between the film and today is that justice is seen in different realities for people of color and White society.  This was seen throughout modern American History, such as with the Rodney King verdict, the O.J. Simpson verdict, as more recently in the Southern Context, the Trayvon Martin indictment.  In these instances, the perception of race is so heated and contested that a judicial verdict can only be interpreted in racial lenses.  The ending of the film with the jubilation of African- Americans collides with the Klan's anger demonstrates this.  The racial polarization in the South, and to an extent in many parts of America, demonstrates how a judicial verdict, supposedly blind to different elements of reality, can be interpreted by that reality in divergent ways.

readerofbooks eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a very important question. The movie, A Time to Kill was directed by Joel Schumacher and had a star studded cast, which included: Matthew McConaughey, Ashley Judd, Samuel Jackson, Sandra Bullock, Kevin Spacey and Donald Sutherland. 

The setting of the movie was Canton Mississippi, where the daughter of Carl Lee Haily (played by Jackson) was brutal raped and left for dead. Carl Lee Haily took matters into his own hand and killed the assailants with a machine gun in the courthouse. 

The rest of the movie surrounds the trial. The depiction of race relations is intense. Things have gotten better since then, but it would be ignorant to say that race is not an issue.

The Trevon Martin case shows that race is still an issue. The very fact that Zimmerman did not go to trial right away shows that race is still a great issue. There obviously is injustice. To put it another way, if a black man shot a white teen there would have been an immediate uproar. Second, another instance can be seen even in the North. Just a few years back, Professor Henry Louis Gates was stopped and arrested from going into his own house in Cambridge Massachusetts. 

In light of these examples, people make judgments based on the color of a person's skin. 

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question