The 1930’s was tough for women, people of colour and the poor , due to the great depression and relentless prejudice, this is presented in the novel “To kill a mockingbird” by Harper Lee. The idea’s of prejudice is present throughout the whole book through the racism, sexism and classism. the scene heavily presents the theme prejudice because if this book was set in the modern day the themes would not be as prominent as in the text.
“I could not possibly hope to be a lady if I wore breeches; when I said I could do nothing in a dress, she said I wasn’t supposed to be doing things that required pants” Women in the 1930’s were expected to wear dresses and be a stay at home mum and not do any activities that were messy, aggressive or at all boy like, this is how the scene influences the novel “To kill a mockingbird” because in this society we would not see the same behaviour now that we did back then, meaning we would not see the characters act the way they did, woman who did not stay at home and cook for their husband and wear dresses look after the kids were not woman and were some kind of disgrace.
Aunt Alexandra being one of the main influencers of sexism says to scout
“we decided it would be best for you to have some feminine influence. it won’t be many years , Jean Louise, before you become interested in clothes and boys.” this is one of the perpetual ways Aunt Alexandra forced womanhood upon scout, throughout the novel scout is pushed to be what a woman is supposed to be through comments like “Scout, I’m tellin’ you for the last time, shut your trap or go home-i declare to the lord you’re gettin’ more like a girl every day!” this is an example of the downgrading of woman to be told you’re acting like a girl, you throw like a girl, you do anything like a girl and it is insufficient. (come back to this)
The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any colour of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box.” The state of the system in America was and is in shambles, it was supposed to be fair and equal system with no prejudice so the judge could make a decision based on truth and not feelings, this is why this quote is important to the novel and overall life because it shows how no matter how fair and equal the system is supposed to be the white man drags his prejudice into the courtroom and doesn’t do fair deals. The scene, 1930’s, heavily pushed this theme because in this society and this era we would not see this level of racism as often as we did, in my opinion biases still happen in the court room, rich wins over poor, white wins over black, men win over women, this is evident in a few cases and this is why i know the theme will always be present but not as often/ as harsh as they used to be. (come back to this)
Tom Robinson in the novel was a hard working family man he had a wife, kids and was a friendly neighbourhood helper but he was black and this was his “default” , Tom Robinson got far from a square deal he went into the box an honest innocent man and came out dirty and guilty, why? Because he had been out numbered by white men who could contradict his truth with lies. “She was white, and she tempted a Negro. She did something that in our society is unspeakable: she kissed a black man. Not an old Uncle, but a strong young Negro man. No code mattered to her before she broke it, but it came crashing down on her afterwards.” This quote is important to the novel “To kill a mockingbird” because it shows the time the book was set, how drastic the time was, this is also important because it shows Tom Robinsons innocence further confirming the biases within the jury box.
Classism, a problem that occurs in the 1930’s and now which was increased by the great depression, the great depression started after a major fall in stock prices in 1929, the great depression lasted in some places until world war 2 in 1939, the great depression caused friction in-between classes because the rich became middle class this did not happy the people that had their status dropped and became close to “the poor”. “but miss he’s a Cunningham” as open minded as scout was she made this comment in defence of a boys behaviour like his financial status excused his behaviour and how he presented himself. “Jean Louise, there is no doubt in my mind that they’re good folks. But they’re not our kind of folks….you can scrub Walter Cunningham till he shines, you can put him in shoes and a new suit, but he’ll never be like Jem. Besides, there a drinking streak in that family a mile wide. Finch women aren’t interested in that sort of people.”