Essay on Expectations - to Kill a Mockingbird

1247 Words Oct 2nd, 2011 5 Pages
The following essay is based on the theme of “Expectations” in the novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. The novel set during the 1930’s depression in Maycomb south Alabama is based upon the ignorance and prejudice present in society. The theme of ‘expectations’ is an imperative motif which affects the events that occur throughout the novel. Social expectations were rigidly upheld in Southern Alabama in the 1930’s. These expectations determined what behaviours were acceptable for men and women, Caucasians and Negros and different economic classes in society.
The social setting in Maycomb County has a profound effect on the expectations in the novel. Initially, all individuals of Maycomb know about each other’s background and upbringing for
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During Tom Robinson’s trial, the strong prejudice of Maycomb County and the negative effects of its social stratification were clearly demonstrated. Whilst Tom Robinson is innocent of the crime of rape, he gave the Caucasians more reason to convict him on the basis of daring to feel sorry for a Caucasian - it is not expected that a negro (considered as being a part of the lowest class of society, event lower than the ‘white trash’) could feel sorry for a Caucasian and the Caucasians could not accept such a presumption.
[…] ‘You’re a might good fellow, it seems - did all this for not one penny?’
‘Yes suh. I felt right sorry for her, she seemed to try more’n the rest of ‘em -’
‘You felt sorry for her, you felt sorry for her?’
‘Mr Gilmer seemed ready to rise to the ceiling. The witness realized his mistake and shifted uncomfortably in the chair. But the damage was done. Below us, nobody liked Tom Robinson’s answer. Mr Gilmer paused for a long time to let it sink in.’ (Chapter 19, page 218)
Although there were doubts regarding Bob Ewell’s testimony and Atticus pleads the jury to give Tom equal standing under the eyes of the law, the jury still convicts Tom as being guilty to rape of Mayella Ewell. This lead to Jem’s mistrust in the legal system as Jem was old enough to understand the events that were occurring, but he wasn’t old enough to understand the reasoning behind Tom’s conviction as nothing has yet…