‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is a book set in the 1930’s, in Alabama during the depression where there was much racial tension in the southern parts of the USA. The black community is mostly poor and usually living in slum areas.
The Finches, the main family in the book, have a black maid working for them named Calpurnia. She is treated fairly by them since they don’t seem to be a racist family. In this household she is free to express her opinions and act as if there is no racial prejudice against her. She has a large part in bringing up the two children, Scout and Jem, and can be very harsh to them with the full approval of there father Atticus Finch. Atticus respects her almost considers her as a part of the family as he tells his children that they’d be nowhere without her and compliments her in many other ways. During these times you would expect a normal white family from this area to treat a black person within their household very badly, giving her no such compliments or liberties and certainly not letting their children think of her as an equal.
At on point in the book, chapter 12, Calpurnia takes Jem and Scout to a black church where it is described as being very dirty with rusty paint work, looking as if it was made cheaply and may have been vandalised a few times. The children are welcomed by most of the black people attending the service, which might showing how black people want the approval of white people when showing them how they aren’t bitter towards white people because of their mistreatment.
Tom Robinson is a black man who is accused of rape under poor evidence and seems to be a man not physically capable of committing such a crime, and is shown to be a non violent man who wouldn’t do such a thing. When a black person is accused of these crimes in this town, they often get a very bad attitudes towards them, with there family being threatened and people not willing to help them out in anyway as shown when Tom’s wife is refused a job. The white folk use these sort situations for opportunities to commit acts of violence towards black people as shown when a group of people attempt to get inside the jail cell of Tom and probably attack him. This is stopped by Atticus, the only man who was willing to defend Tom as a lawyer and has also received some forms of threat from people even though he seems to be a well respected resident of Maycomb.
At the trial, when Tom is questioned, he speaks in a very polite tone when he is spoken in a tone unlike that from the lawyer, Mr Gilmer. This tone would probably be used by most black people in his situation for they would be trying to avoid being thought of in any bad way what so ever because of the prejudice in the courts.
In conclusion, the book shows that black people are treated very differently from white people, with less respect and prejudice towards them. They are presented as being very poor and tolerant to the their situation, not showing any racism back for they no they will suffer from any attitudes like this. Perhaps they act this way to try and show that they are equal and should receive such abuse.