In the eyes of a child, the setting of

In modern America, Black Lives Matter and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) are both movements established to fight against the racism ingrained in society. These organizations have been developed over time to reach their current active/peak state. What was it like in the past when there was no one to defend against the brutality of the Klu Klux Klan or the cruelty of lynching parties? Harper Lee takes us back to a time and place where African Americans stood alone in their fight. In her novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, set in the 1930’s, Lee creates a gentler yet equally as powerful image of racism, disguised as a quaint/small southern town called Maycomb. Interestingly, Critics tend to disagree on the credibility of her portrayal. Some argue that the novel does not a present an realistic portrait of racism while others insist that Harper Lee’s portrayal is a delicate analysis of human nature and is entirely plausible. That being said, Harper lee utilizes characterization through the eyes of a child, the setting of racism institutionalized in the south, and the conflict of a young African American facing a rape charge, to demonstrate the dichotomy between good and evil in human nature that can sometimes lead to the destruction of our innocence and morality.First and foremost, those criticizing the historicity of the novel tend to attack the authenticity of the characters. In his article “Why Schools Should Stop Teaching To Kill a Mockingbird”, Naa Baako Ako-Adjei claims that the personalities of the characters are extreme in clichés, undermining the book’s message. The first culprit of this, he explains, is Atticus Finch, Scout’s father and the man defending Tom Robinson in his rape trial. Atticus, while reasonably fair and dutiful to his job as a lawyer, is seen by some critics as too ethical, making him “an improbable character.” Atticus was raised in an extremely judgemental southern town obsessed with stature and the depth of a family’s history. Not to mention, he lived in an era of segregation where sympathy towards African Americans was a social oddity. With this information in mind, critics disagree on the likeliness  of a man with a background of such being as morally perfect as he is portrayed. Atticus’ moral perfection is demonstrated through his unwavering commitment to a trial that could lead to the social rejection and endangerment of his children and himself. For example, when Scout asks why Atticus is willing to sacrifice their reputation to defend a “Negro”, Atticus responds with, “…if I didn’t, I couldn’t hold up my head in town… I couldn’t even tell you or Jem not to do something again” (Lee 86) . Atticus feels compelled to defend those who can’t defend themselves no matter the cost. Even when he is later threatened by the trial’s plaintiff, Bob Ewell. This is one reason why critics question Atticus’s character. How is one man so selfless as to put the defense of a man, who was considered worthless during that era, over the safety of himself and his children? Even more, not only were Atticus’s actions and decisions far from a “realistic rendering of a person” (Ako-Adjei), but his words were too. Ako-Adjei, repulsed by the amount of wisdom Atticus imparts, complained that Atticus was practically “a human PEZ dispenser, offering readers saccharine sweet banalities.”  (ADD ON: Write sentence about how wisdom is unrealistic. And how atticus’s character diminishes the book’s credibility and whatever reader wants to hear & give examples.) While Atticus represents the pure goodness of man, for some critics, Bob Ewell symbolizes the irredeemable awfulness. Ewell, an alcoholic, who lives in a fetid shack and occasionally abuses his children, operates with a “cartoonish malevolence that seemed as one-note and tedious as Atticus’s saintly forbearance” (Ako-Adjei). Lee seems intent on dehumanizing Ewell so much that there are no redeemable qualities about him that readers can relate to or sympathize with. He lies about an innocent man raping his daughter, he pettily attacks children to get his revenge on grown man, and he lives in rancid conditions that produce “congenital defects” and “various worms” (Lee 81). According to Ako-Adjei, this separates him from the other racist white characters, categorizing him into a new bracket that readers are able to dissociate with. Ewell “couldn’t simply be white” he had to be “beyond pale.” His excessive malevolence transforms him into the perfect scapegoat for (Maycomb’s problems?).One of the most compelling arguments critics have is that the novel lacks accuracy in its rendition of the 1930’s social climate. Some even goes as far as to say that Harper Lee attempts to mitigate the severity of the discrimination during that time period. Lee chose to omit important aspects of white supremacy such as lynching, mobs, and the violence of the Klu Klux Klan, coaxing readers into believing in the softened image of racism. This is what some claim is the base of the novel’s appeal. Readers feel relieved that racism wasn’t really the systematic use of terror by the whole population, but it was simply “perpetrated by a negligible number of Americans who were not dissimilar from Bob Ewell” (Ako-Adjei). This type of thinking leads to the idea that the only “bad guys” are those considered to be “white-trash”. Even the characters themselves directly condemn the uneducated to be the racist culprits. When Scout picks up slang from another child in school, Atticus chastises her saying “Don’t say nigger, Scout. That’s common.” (Lee 85). Furthermore, with the ignorant “trashy” people being the problem, Lee implies that those who are educated are the only solution, reducing racism into a simple problem that can be fixed by people like Atticus. Throughout the novel, Lee chooses to picture African Americans as helpless and in need of white people to stand up for them. Take for example the courtroom scene where at the end of the trial “…the Negroes were getting to their feet…” (Lee 242) out of respect for Atticus. Readers are pulled into a “white saviour” complex as they are taught that only they can save the vulnerable “Negroes” who will be grateful for their help. In no instance in the novel do any of the African Americans attempt to fight against the oppression. Resistance was a key in the 1930’s as it would later lead up to the Civil Rights Movement. (needs better lead up/omit) (Lee reimagines history by falsely accusing poor whites as the perpetrators of racist violence and educated whites as the only ones who can stop it.)At the same time, supporters of the novel insist that the characters are realistic depictions of human nature. Claudia Johnson claims in “The Secret Courts of Men’s Hearts: Code and Law in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird” that Maycomb serves as a model for society as a whole as it was “extraordinarily complex for such a tiny community”.