, Research Paper
Believe it or not, individuals have trouble seeing black from white. Mankind has the ability to develop an immoral sense of integrity suited to their needs, yet morally accept their sense of integrity. The author of To Kill a Mockingbird illustrates this illusion portrayed by a Southern society. By using a 1930?s Southern point-of-view, Harper Lee demonstrates that integrity not only has the power to unite humankind, but to divide humankind as well.
The setting of To Kill a Mockingbird, in a small Alabama community is constructed from the contradictions of Christianity and prejudice. Through prejudice and bigotry, the Southern society builds a strong sense of integrity that masks their immoral prejudice. The Southern culture of Maycomb derives from the antebellum culture of Christianity and slavery. The morals of slavery greatly clashed with the morals of Christianity. While Southerners desperately needed slavery, they also needed to maintain their Christian sense of integrity that stated all of humankind must be treated according to the laws of God. To mask the immorality of prejudice, Southern society classified Negroes as not human, but of an inferior race. Incapable of confronting their immoral sense of prejudice, Southern culture permitted a sense of integrity based on this deception. This occurs in all prejudiced senses of integrity and is a powerful dividing force of mankind. The community of Maycomb is built from this sense of integrity. Several events in To Kill a Mockingbird indicates that the community holds this immoral integrity.
In To Kill a Mockingbird, it is apparent that the prejudiced sense of integrity is very strong in the town of Maycomb. After Mr. Radley shoots at an unknown figure in his backyard, (being Jem) he says, ?got another barrel waiting for the next sound I hear in that patch, dog or nigger.? By denying Negro?s humanity, and neglecting the rights all humans should possess, Bradley draws a strong line between blacks and whites. The white society of Maycomb constructs a caste system, which has a degrading effect to the community. This prejudiced sense of integrity has a huge impact on society: it divides humankind.
To Kill a Mockingbird illustrates that a prejudiced society strongly oppresses individuals who are affiliated with Negro?s in a positive light. Throughout To Kill a Mockingbird, the community of Maycomb continuously antagonizes Atticus, because he has gave a Negro the same rights as whites. Mrs. Dubose ?Not only a Finch waiting on tables but one in the courthouse lawing for niggers?Your fathers no better than the niggers and trash he works for.?(Pg. 101-102) By classifying Negroes as ?trash?, and placing Atticus in the class with Negroes, Mrs. Dubose strongly divides mankind. The most significant event in To Kill a Mockingbird that demonstrates Maycomb?s dividing sense of integrity is when the jury convicts the Negro, Tom, guilty. Their decision is clearly prejudiced. In result of neglecting Negro?s rights, and prejudging Negroes before having a fair trial, the jury separates blacks from whites. During the Holocaust, the Nazis acted out of the same dividing sense of integrity. They thought that all races were inferior to the Aryan race. Their integrity was biased and bigoted into what they thought was justice. The Fascist party was Christian, and morally accepted their sense of integrity by classifying Jews for example as the inferior race. The strong need in a prejudiced sense of integrity to segregate and classify Negro?s as an inferior class to protect the morality of their own integrity divides mankind. In To Kill a Mockingbird, blacks were classified by whites as an inferior race, along with animals. Mr. Radley said, ?got another barrel waiting for the next sound I hear in that patch, dog or nigger.? The jury?s decision to convict Tom guilty, a decision that was completely biased to protect their own integrity, divided the people of Maycomb. A wall constructed by this prejudiced sense of integrity divides black from the whites, as well as anyone affiliated with blacks, from whites. ?Your fathers no better than the niggers and trash he works for.? In the days of early discrimination, in the early 1900?s, America was divided into more like two nations; the white nation, and the black nation. The dividing of the human race was constructed by a prejudice sense of integrity.
There are uniting forces in To Kill a Mockingbird also. Atticus?s sense of integrity is constructed from his morals of truth and justice rather from prejudice and bigotry. Atticus, no matter what stands in his way, follows his individually moral sense of integrity. In Atticus?s final argument, he said, ?I?m no idealist to believe firmly in the integrity of our courts, and in the jury system- that is no ideal to me, it is a living working reality..In the name of God, do your duty. ? Atticus is saying that the justice of the court will only prevail if the jury member?s individual sense of integrity is maintained; unbiased, and unprejudiced. He is attempting to make clear the great injustice prejudice is doing. Unfortunately, the jury?s Christian need to justify their immoral sense of integrity is far stronger than justice is. Atticus?s sense of integrity unites mankind. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus unites the black community with his family.
Perhaps if Atticus succeeded in compelling the jury to understand his sense of integrity, the entire tune of To Kill a Mocking Bird would change dramatically. The moral sense of integrity would more powerfully unite all of Maycomb; blacks and whites. The fibers of a masked immoral sense of integrity have the power to divide mankind; as the justice of a moral sense of integrity has the power to unite mankind.