Examples of Foreshadowing and Racism & Discrimination in To Kill a Mocking Bird

The Title explained In chapter 10 we are witness to a conversation between Scout, a young girl, and her neighbor. Scout had heard her father Atticus Finch say it was a sin to kill a mockingbird, and the neighbor agrees, saying, ‘Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy…but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’The story of the mockingbird not only sets the stage for the town’s unfair treatment of African Americans, but lets us know that probably some mockingbirds will be killed in the novel. These mockingbirds could be the characters like Tom Robinson who is literally killed, or aspects of characters like Boo Radley’s dignity, which is killed by the mistrust and mistreatment of the community. Or even Scout’s brother’s innocence, which is killed by witnessing the trial and its outcome.
Scout’s Behavior When Atticus Finch agrees to take on a controversial case, many people in the town are upset because he’ll be representing Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman. Atticus tells Scout that she should not let it bother her. ‘You just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don’t you let ’em get your goat. Try fightin’ with your head for a change.’ This tells us that Scout is quite the feisty, headstrong child.She is able to maintain her composure for a little while, but eventually, she is unable to hold her frustration a bay. When her cousin calls Atticus racist names, Scout loses her temper and punches him.
Bob Ewell and Boo Radley Early on in the novel and throughout the book, there are clues that let the reader know that Bob Ewell, the white father of the victim in the trial, is not a nice man.Atticus explains to Scout that the Ewell children are always hungry. Bob is a drunk and Atticus tells Scout that, ‘when a man spends his relief checks on green whiskey his children have a way of crying from hunger pains.’ Lee shows us that he is not someone we can trust. We should be cautious about believing what he says.Bob Ewell holds a grudge, and after the trial he is determined to get back at Atticus for making him look bad. Scout says, ‘Mr. Bob Ewell stopped Atticus on the post office corner, spat in his face, and told him he’d get him if it took the rest of his life.’Later Atticus’s sister adds to this warning, saying, ‘His kind’d do anything to pay off a grudge.’ Indeed, Ewell later harasses Tom’s widow, and attacks Atticus’s children.Boo Radley, a black neighbor of Scout’s family, is a reclusive man that the children make stories about. His goodness is foreshadowed when we understand that he is the one leaving the gifts in the tree, and his protective nature is evidenced when he places a blanket on Scout so she won’t be cold.True to the foreshadowing, when Bob Ewell attacks Scout and her brother, Boo Radley steps in to protect them, and Ewell is killed.
Racial Issues While detailing the black prejudice in the town, Lee gives strong hints at what the outcome of the trial will be. Mayella Ewell, the supposed victim of Tom, was actually romantically interested in him. This dismayed her father, the infamous Bob Ewell, and when he saw what was going on, he beat her. In order to save face, Tom was put on trial, so everyone would still think of Mayella as a good girl.As the trial is proceeding, the black minister, Reverend Sykes, tells Scout’s brother, Jem, ‘Now don’t you be so confident, Mr. Jem, I ain’t ever seen any jury decide in favor of a colored man over a white man….’ In this moment the reader might have a sinking feeling, as Tom’s outlook is not hopeful. We later watch as Tom is sentenced to death.Harper Lee uses the outcome of the trial to foreshadow social issues in America. Though Tom is found guilty, the jury takes longer than usual, hours instead of minutes, to decide. Atticus takes notice of this, and reflects, ‘this may be a shadow of the beginning.’ In this way, Lee is prophesying the issues and triumphs blacks would face during the civil rights movement of the 1960’s.
The stage is set Harper Lee made bold choices when she decided to take on social issues involving race and gender in To Kill a Mockingbird. Set in the 1930s in the Deep South of Alabama, discrimination because of race and gender ran rampant. Lee was likely influenced by experiences in her own life, especially two trials where black men were accused of raping or sexually assaulting a white woman. She grew up in Alabama, her father was a lawyer, and she lived during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the integration of schools. These experiences helped her infuse strength and a moral code of ethics into characters such as Scout, Atticus Finch, and Tom Robinson.
Racial Discrimination: Calpurnia Calpurnia is the black woman who looks after Scout and Jem. She is like a mother figure to them, and Atticus holds her in high esteem. Although she is treated well, she is not an equal. She calls Scout ma’am and Jem sir. Scout tells us about her relationship with Calpurnia: ‘Our battles were epic and one-sided. Calpurnia always won, mainly because Atticus always took her side.’Scout confuses Calpurnia’s stern behavior for dislike. Calpurnia is hard on her; she is demanding, and she rules with an iron hand, but Scout realizes that Calpurnia loves her in the way Atticus does.Scout and Jem go to church with Calpurnia, and Scout is confused by the way Calpurnia speaks when she is among her friends; it is different than when she is in the house with Scout and Jem. Calpurnia explains it this way:’Folks don’t like to have somebody around knowin’ more than they do. It aggravates ’em. You’re not gonna change any of them by talkin’ right, they’ve got to want to learn themselves, and when they don’t want to learn there’s nothing you can do but keep your mouth shut or talk their language.’In that moment, probably for the first time, Scout realizes Calpurnia has a life outside the Finch family.As readers, we can relate to Scout’s revelation. We all remember the first time we saw a teacher out in the world instead of the classroom. We were shocked to think that they had a life, that they actually went grocery shopping. Scout shares that same surprise when she spends time in Calpurnia’s world.
Racial Discrimination: The Trial When the novel takes us to Tom Robinson’s trial, the apex of the action in the book, we witness what happens when a black man is accused of raping a white woman. But we also see subtle forms of racism. When Scout and Jem and Dill arrive at the court, the seats are taken. Three blacks give up their seats so the kids can sit and watch the trial.Each party in the trial plays a different role. Bob Ewell, Mayella’s father, is the embodiment of a poor white man with no education or class. He is racially prejudiced and extremely ignorant. We are led to believe Mayella has probably been involved in an incestuous relationship with her father. There is little about Bob Ewell we find likable.Ewell is the exact opposite of Atticus Finch. Atticus stands for everything that is good, and he sees everyone as equal. Atticus Finch is the face of justice and morality, and we believe in him because he has qualities we admire.Tom Robinson is facing a trial and the death sentence because he is black. Even though the Ewells are held in very low esteem by the people of the town, they are still above Tom. Bob Ewell is horrified that his daughter has feelings for Tom, and Atticus knows that the odds are stacked against Tom. He explains it to Scout and Jem: ‘In our courts, when it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s, the white man always wins.’Atticus tells Scout and Jem that taking advantage of people is wrong. It doesn’t matter who they are; if they take advantage, then they are trash: ‘As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it — whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.’In To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee uses Atticus Finch to take a stand against racism. His voice is clear, and his actions are decisive. The issues that accompany acts of racism are vile. This is the message we are left to digest
Racial Discrimination: Gender Scout lost her mother at a very early age, and she has grown up in a house with men. She hates being called a girl. She is a tomboy through and through, but when her Aunt Alexandra comes to live with them for a while, she wants Scout to be more of a lady. Scout says: ‘I felt the starched walls of a pink cotton penitentiary closing in on me, and for the second time in my life I thought of running away. Immediately.’The idea of living life in girls’ clothes, frilly and pink, is enough to make Scout furious. She does not want to be the girl her aunt is expecting her to be; in fact, she will fight against it as much as she can, but Alexandra is on a campaign to make her a lady. When she hosts the Missionary Society Ladies, she insists that Scout sit with them rather than help Calpurnia serve. Scout is not happy. She knows it is ‘part of her campaign to teach me be a lady.’When Tom is on trial, Jem is upset because in his mind the jury is missing good people who would be better suited as jury members. He asks Atticus why Miss Maudie isn’t on the jury. Atticus explains that she can’t serve on a jury because she is a woman.

You Might Also Like