What is a quote in To Kill A Mockingbird that supports the fact that one of the reasons racism was so widespread in Maycomb was due to the fact that it was the 1930's where people were generally...

What is a quote in To Kill A Mockingbird that supports the fact that one of the reasons racism was so widespread in Maycomb was due to the fact that it was the 1930's where people were generally racist to blacks?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are a couple of quotes that support the idea that racism was widespread in Maycomb.  During the 1930’s in the South, segregation was a way of life and no one questioned it.  I think perhaps the best example of this is Jem’s reflection on the four kinds of people in Maycomb.

“…I’ve thought about it a lot lately and I’ve got it figured out. There’s four kinds of folks in the world. There’s the ordinary kind like us and the neighbors, there’s the kind like the Cunninghams out in the woods, the kind like the Ewells down at the dump, and the Negroes.” (Ch. 23) 

Jem is young, and hopeful.  He is coming of age, and trying to understand the way the world works.  This is the realization that he has come to—the world is divided by class and race.  The “Negroes” are on the bottom of his list because they are on the bottom of Maycomb’s social hierarchy.  It is just the way it is.  While we see racism as wrong today, in Maycomb it is totally normal. 

Another good example of the explanation of the widespread nature of racism comes from Dolphus Raymond.  Raymond has to live outside the normal social structure of whites in Maycomb because he married a black woman and had children with her.  Therefore, they don’t belong anywhere in Maycomb.  They don’t fit in with the whites or the blacks. 

During the trial, Dill gets very upset at the way Tom Robinson is being treated, especially by the prosecution.  Mr. Gilmer patronizes and belittles him endlessly, calling him “boy.”  It turns Dill’s stomach, literally. 

He jerked his head at Dill: “Things haven’t caught up with that one’s instinct yet.

Let him get a little older and he won’t get sick and cry. Maybe things’ll strike him as being—not quite right, say, but he won’t cry, not when he gets a few years on him.” (Ch. 20) 

Raymond is explaining to the children that racism is just a way of life in Maycomb.  He does not approve.  That’s why he lives the way he does.  However, everyone else in Maycomb just accepts this as the way things are.  Maybe someday things will change, because children like Dill think that it's wrong.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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