Fear is a feeling of the unknown, or feeling threatened in any way. People have to deal with this feeling many times in their life. This is a emotion only the toughest can overcome. By exploring how the town of Maycomb confronts their fears it becomes possible to understand how fear impacts a community and how it can be overcome. Fear causes the people of Maycomb to be violent and retaliate to make themselves feel safer. The act of overcoming fear can only take place if people are brave in the face of the unknown. The influence of fear can drive individuals into drastic and dangerous circumstances that can only be conquered through the use of courage.
During the 1930’s, racial segregation was a enormous part of everyday life. Blacks feared being annihilated and losing it all. “If you were a nxxxx like me you’d be scared too,” (Lee 262). It felt as if everything was against them, the only people they could trust were family. Life was tough and fearful, these people had immense courage. “Colored folks won’t have ‘em because they’re half white; white folks won’t have ‘em ‘cause they’re colored,” (Lee 215) Skin color turned the two races against each other, they both wanted nothing to do with one other. Whites came out on the upper hand in that battle. “In ones and twos, men got out of their cars…”You can turn around and go home again!”’(Lee 202) These men were afraid of Atticus winning the trial. They feared that if he won, Tom would be freed, they wanted him executed for their strong beliefs in racism. The men showed up to the jailhouse to kill Tom, so no matter the outcome he was dead. They had built up all this fear inside of them and the only way they felt that they could extinish this fear is through the use of violence.
A courtroom is a place to go that avoids segregation; your race, religion is put behind you. However this is not the case in Maycomb. Atticus Finch feels strongly that the courthouse is bias. “In the second place they’re afraid.” (Lee 296) The people of Maycomb dislike the role of being jury, they are afraid of not being at their stores and women were strongly discouraged from serving on juries. “I says I was scared, suh.”
“Why were you scared?”
“Mr. Finch, if you were a nxxxx like me, you’d be scared, too…scared I’d be in court, just like I am now.” (Lee 261) Tom instinctively ran when Bob caught him and Mayella in the shack. He chose to do this because he was scared he would be caught and put on trial. He knew that if this were to happen he would have been found guilty because of his skin color. Also the Anti-miscegenation law enforced that two characters of different race cannot have any sexual interaction. Bob caught them kissing and Tom knew he would be tried. These laws should never be in place. As Atticus says, “The evil assumption—that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral beings, all Negro men are not to be trusted around women,” (Lee 273) This is what people assume but every person is equal and should have a fair chance at life. If people thought of everyone as equal, were not scared and did not believe the “evil assumption” about blacks, then people would not fear blacks.
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