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Theme Of Heroism In To Kill A Mockingbird

Decent Essays
No hero is made without experiencing pain. For Tom Robinson in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, this pain is being accused of a crime that he did not commit. In the 1930’s, the time period in which the Bildungsroman classic is set, the severe discrimination he faces is accepted and even encouraged. This appalling reality was a daily struggle for the African Americans living in the small Alabama town. As a minority in Maycomb, Tom is a great example of unexpected heroism due to the intense race relationships, the collective standards of honor, and the traditional community.
The race relationships, a common barrier in the South, had a substantial influence on how Tom lived. Discrimination was simply a way of life, for it was considered
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Tom, however, out of the compassion of his heart, made a risky decision to help Mayella Ewell. In the court trial, Tom is asked, “‘Why were you so anxious to do that’s woman’s chores?’”(263); the very thought of a black man assisting a white woman in some minor chores brought discomfort to the close-minded. Tom breaks the community’s rules of separation, to selflessly help somebody else, while at the same time, getting himself into an intimidating position for a black man. In one of his arguments, Tom explains how he never accepted any payment from Mayella, for he knew her economic status was low (256). His charity is heroic, but in a town like Maycomb, it is unacceptable. Without the community, a crucial element of southern literature, Tom never would have been a hero. In actuality, the order that was present was the perfect environment for Tom to create chaos as an unlikely hero. The honor code was important to developing him, but it was Maycomb itself that really enforced it. The social norms of racism create a tight confinement: “‘There’s been some high talk around town to the effect that I shouldn’t be defending this man’” (100). Atticus, the lawyer who defends Tom, speaks to the influence of the community and how controlling the town’s opinions were. Additionally, he talks of society’s many do’s and don’t’s. Its restrictions were harsh, and not following what was expected of you was considered
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