What are some ways language is used to represent the empowerment of white Americans in comparison to African Americans in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird?  Note: I have already touched on the use of the word "n****r." 

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In To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee mostly uses language to portray the belief that African Americans are subordinate "others" as opposed to being of equal status with white Americans, thereby showing the belief that white Americans have power over African Americans. She particularly portrays the racist belief that African Americans are "others" by using the word them, a word that instantly separates the person speaking from the person being spoken of.

One example can be seen the morning after Atticus and the children face the lynch mob. Aunt Alexandra expresses her belief that Atticus was perfectly safe without the influence of the children since Mr. Underwood was there with his shotgun waiting to act. In response, Atticus argues Mr. Underwood was in reality unlikely to act since, "He despises Negroes, won't have one near him" (Ch. 16). Aunt Alexandra objects to the fact that Atticus makes this comment in front of Calpurnia, who is serving breakfast. Aunt Alexandra expresses her objection in the following comment:

Don't talk like that in front of them. (Ch. 16)

But Aunt Alexandra is not concerned about Calpurnia feeling insulted. She's only worried about the prospect of rebellion. In her mind, reminding African Americans of the hatred they face stirs them to talk and eventually to revolt. But Aunt Alexandra doesn't want African Americans to revolt; she wants them in what she considers to be their rightful place of subordination, socially far removed from white Americans. Since Aunt Alexandra sees African Americans as being socially far removed from and far beneath white Americas, she refers to African Americans as them in her opposing remark to Atticus and does not use her remark to express a more humane concern. Therefore, through this one simple sentence, we can see that author Lee uses the word them to paint Maycomb's dominant belief that African Americans are very different from and far beneath white Americans.

In addition to using the word them, Lee continues to paint the belief that African Americans should be nothing more than subordinates by using such words as "cooks and field hands" and by having characters refer to the African Americans' protestations against social injustices as the African Americans grumbling and being sulky, as we see the ladies of the missionary circle do in Chapter 24. Referring to African Americans as grumbling and sulking belittles their situation and their reaction to their situation.

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