Literature

Race and Class in the To Kill a Mockingbird

of the of the Concerned 27 September Race and in the Movie To Kill a Mockingbird The Southern cultureand its affiliations to the notions of race and class have since decades commanded an important position in the American literature, movies and media. In fact, the concepts of race and class have been so integral to the Southern societies that it is practically impossible to think of a Southern way of life, without missing these two essentials that marked the Southern culture. To Kill a Mockingbird is a highly relevant literary slice of the Southern Culture of the 30s, which not only delves on the institution of race, but also elaborates on the Southern notion of social class.
There is no denying the fact that “Early on in the history of American South, the institution of slavery established race as one of the dominant influences shaping Southern culture (Beck, Frandsen &amp. Randall 121)”, whose diluted remnants can still be traced in the contemporary Southern life. In that context this movie is primarily concerned with the dynamics of the race relations in the South. To a great extent the movie traces the conflict and friction accompanying the change in social perceptions pertaining to the notion of race in the South. The fictional character of Tom in the movie To Kill a Mockingbird emerges as a symbolic representative of the injustices inflicted on a section of the Southern society, a direct outcome of the Southern notions of race. The movie elaborately delineates the race based bifurcation of the Southern society, which happened to be all encompassing, including within its ambit all the salient aspects of the Southern social life, like habitations, religion, mannerisms, language, food, politics and sadly justice also.
Class is an important concern in this movie as social class has traditionally commanded immense importance in the essentially agrarian Southern culture replete with “an abundance of myths and stereotypes about the poor and the wealthy (Beck, Frandsen &amp. Randall 46)”. In that sense, this movie allows the audience to glance over a range of class affiliated stereotypes like the conservative Mrs. Dubose, and the Cunninghams and the Ewells belonging to the lower class, from the relatively balanced perspective of Jem and Scout.
The movie in a way visually presents the complex interplay between the Southern notions of class and race, with those at the receiving end of the system trying to seek a common space. For instance, when Scout embarrasses the poor Walter Cunningham, she is severely reprimanded by her black cook Calpurnia. However, it does need to be mentioned that when it came to arriving at important social decisions and conclusions, the institution of class somewhat receded to a secondary position as compared to race, as is evinced by the eventual plight of Tom.
To an average American, the notions of race and class may seem anachronistic in the current times, but in the Southern culture, class and race happened to be the contexts in which the social life was oft interpreted.
Works Cited
Beck, John, Frandsen, Wendy Jean &amp. Randall, Aaron. Southern Culture: An Introduction.
New York: Carolina Academic Press, 2010. Print.

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