Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” People often see injustice happening and disregard it. A person who is truly just should act instantly and speak up for those who are mistreated. In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee shows readers the violations of justice that take place in a person’s life in 1930’s Alabama. Mayella Ewell, the eldest daughter of the Ewell family, is the victim of a supposed rape, but due to fear of society and her father she is defensive about her affairs. Atticus Finch, a local attorney, believes in equality amongst people, however, others have a different view on his character. Tom Robinson, a black man, is accused of raping Mayella and is victimized because of his race. Harper Lee displays that although all people are different, justice should be granted to everyone.
Mayella Ewell has a tragic life; she suppresses her feelings due to fear of her family and society’s judgement. She is a victim of physical and sexual abuse by her father, Bob Ewell. When asked if Bob Ewell is good to her, Mayella says, “‘He does tollable, ‘cept when-‘… ‘Except when he’s drinking?’ asked Atticus so gently that Mayella nodded” (Lee 245). Readers can infer that Bob continuously mistreats his daughter because of his high levels of intoxication and is not held accountable for his actions. Mayella’s fear of her father causes her to keep quiet about the abuse, which later causes her to blatantly lie in front of the judge. Her fear of society’s judgement causes her to victimize Tom Robinson, rather than accepting that she was attracted to a black man. As Atticus states in his closing remarks, “she was white, and she tempted a Negro. She did something that in our society is unspeakable: she kissed a black man” (Lee 272). The racist society in Maycomb makes having an affair with a black person seem ludicrous. People’s lack of respect and bias towards Negroes makes Mayella afraid of their opinions, causing her to indict Tom of a crime he does not commit. Thus, it showcases the prejudice and racist culture they are living in.
Atticus Finch believes that everyone is equal and should be treated fairly, but people’s opinions about his choices in life contradict his beliefs. Atticus is given Tom Robinson’s case, and the town is displeased that he is defending a Negro. His nephew, Francis, reflects the behavior of Atticus’ sister, Alexandra Finch, and says, “Uncle Atticus is a nxxxxx-lover besides, but I’m here to tell you it certainly does mortify the rest of the family” (Lee 110). Atticus’ family and neighbours are unhappy with his decision to fight for a black man. However, he firmly believes that justice should not be judged by race. In contrast to Mayella’s character, Atticus does not fear what others think of him, or let their judgements get to him. He continuously fights for Tom’s justice, but in doing so, many people discriminate him for his actions. Also, Atticus is a single parent who many people think is incapable of raising children. Francis tells Atticus’ daughter, Scout Finch, “Grandma Alexandra says it’s bad enough he lets you all run wild” (Lee 110). Many people in town do not think Atticus can raise children because he is a man. In this generation women are to stay home and raise the kids, so people think that alone he will not be able to set a good example. Therefore, Alexandra later decides to live with the Finch’s to give the children, primarily Scout, a woman’s influence. Thus, one man’s firm belief about justice is not enough to change an entire town’s stereotypes.
Tom Robinson is looked down upon in town because he is a black man. The prejudice shown towards Negroes in Maycomb is appalling. Members of the town disregard the life of a person, and scrutinize their actions simply due to race. Scout’s statement that, “after all he’s just a Negro” (Lee 266) is so common in Maycomb that young children are learning the racist ways of their elders. Dill Harris, a young boy from Meridian, feels sick due the disrespectful way Mr. Gilmer, the prosecutor, speaks to Tom during the trial, and Scout uses that statement to console him. This shows that young children do not understand the severity and lack of courtesy within their words, because they are taught to speak in such a manner. Additionally, Tom Robinson is charged for a crime in which there is little to no evidence against him. He is found guilty for raping Mayella even though “The state has not produced one iota of medical evidence to the effect that the crime Tom Robinson is charged with ever took place” (Lee 271). Although the Ewell family has poor credibility, their words are trusted more than a black man. A court room should be a place where everyone is equal; consequently, in this society a Negro’s words are worthless in comparison to those of a white person’s. Tom Robinson openly admits that he did not rape Mayella, and confidently speaks about the events of that night. Despite knowing that Mayella is lying, the jury still finds Tom guilty of the crime. Hence, this shows that justice is truly not being shown to the black people in Maycomb.
The novel To Kill a Mockingbird emphasizes the injustices many people face in their daily lives in the 1930’s. Harper Lee highlights the fact that while everyone is different, justice should be shown to all individuals regardless of their race, gender, and culture. Society’s judgement and her father’s abusive behaviour made Mayella Ewell secretive about her affairs. Atticus’ strong tenets about equality contradict society’s opinion about him. Tom Robinson endures a lot of racism because he is a Negro indicted with raping a white woman. To Kill a Mockingbird teaches the valuable lesson that injustice persists in our world, and everyone is somehow affected by it.