To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What are some quotes throughout the novel that depict prejudice against Tom Robinson?

Expert Answers info

Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write10,300 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

In Chapter 12, Scout attends Sunday service at First Purchase African M.E. Scout watches as Reverend Sykes takes up a collection for Helen Robinson and she asks Calpurnia why the congregation is giving money to Tom's wife. Calpurnia says that Helen has three children and can't take them to work. Reverend Sykes then tells Scout that Helen's having a hard time finding work. When Scout asks Cal why folks won't hire Helen, Cal says,

"It's because of what folks say Tom done...Folks aren't anxious to---to have anything to do with any of his family" (Lee 75).

The community of Maycomb's prejudiced feelings toward Tom negatively affects his family. They feel that Tom Robinson is guilty before he even goes to court and refuse to associate with anyone related to him.

Following Tom's death, Scout describes the Maycomb community's reaction to his attempted escape. She says,

"To Maycomb, Tom's death was Typical. Typical of a nigger to cut and run. Typical of a nigger's mentality to have no plan, no thought for the future, just run blind the first chance he saw...Easy come, easy go. Just shows you, that Robinson boy was legally married, they say he kept himself clean, went to church and all that, but when it comes down to the line the veneer's mighty thin. Nigger always comes out in 'em" (Lee 147).

The community's comments about Tom Robinson reveal their prejudice towards him. Although Tom was respected throughout the African American community, the white citizens of Maycomb still viewed him with contempt because he was black. They saw Tom Robinson as a "nigger" like the rest of the African Americans in Macomb and refused to believe that he was a sensible person.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial