Compare and Contrast: “to Kill a Mockingbird” & Scottsboro Trials

978 Words Nov 20th, 2008 4 Pages
When Harper Lee was writing about the trial of Tom Robinson in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” she had a very real case to look to for inspiration. The trial of the Scottsboro Boys was a world renowned case in the 1930’s in which nine black youths were accused of raping to white girls in Alabama. Lee’s novel took this case and created the fictional case of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a lower class white girl in a small town in Alabama during the Depression-era. The Scottsboro trials were the main source of inspiration for Lee’s novel, and although the circumstances of the novel differed from the real-life scandal, the similarities between the two cases are quite abundant.

The accusations made in the Scottsboro case by
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The two cases also involved lynch mobs. Scottsboro had large masses of people waiting for the boys outside the jail waiting to lynch them. It got so out of hand. The National Guard was called in to hold off the crowds. It was a much more controlled situation in Lee’s novel, involving only a small group of men threatening outside the jailhouse and Atticus Finch keeping guard. The National Guard was not called in, but Scout did successfully ward off the men with her innocent charm. Overall, the public reactions of these cases were similar, except for the fact that the Scottsboro case drew much more extreme responses. While most of the white people at the time of the Scottsboro case called for the death penalty, most of the white people in “Mockingbird” were generally indifferent about Robinson’s outcome, only caring about its affect on their black employees.

There were several trials held throughout the case of the Scottsboro Boys. Most of them were unfair and obviously conducted with the odds stacked against the boys. The testimonies given by the two girls often did not match up. Victoria Price spent the most time on the stand, and on the rare occasion that Ruby Bates testified, most of what she said was disregarded because it contradicted or changed Price’s story. It was concluded that anything Bates said was no good because she was dimwitted and could not keep her story straight.
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