Throughout improved drastically over the past century,

Throughout history, the difficulties and struggles of inequality have always been present. While inequality has include an extremely broad spectrum of people, the most common version of inequality is racism. The United States has primarily struggled with the mistreatment and injustices towards African Americans. While the racism has improved drastically over the past century, some might argue that it is yet again on the rise and continues to haunt those who are victims of racial inequality. Two of the most iconic books known to Americans that uniquely address African American racism include To Kill a Mockingbird and Uncle Tom’s Cabin. These two fictional stories reflect the hardships and struggles of African Americans in the United States during two completely different centuries. While they present many differences from one another in both the themes and literary elements that they utilize, there are many striking similarities that highlight the true struggles of African Americans from differing perspectives. Uncle Tom’s Cabin relates a story about slaves and the oppression that they faced while To Kill a Mockingbird focuses on the lingering racism after the abolition of slavery. They both present similar themes of racial inequality as well as both the good and evil that results from African American discrimination. Each book expresses a unique backgrounds and provides a valuable context for readers who wish to understand the atmosphere of what it was like to coexist as different races. Other important literary elements both compare and contrast to one another as they help to support a common theme of racial inequality. African American racism is displayed through the similarities and differences that are presented in To Kill a Mockingbird and Uncle Tom’s Cabin through numerous literary elements including themes and historical context regarding time periods and surrounding societal events, as well as numerous motifs and hidden symbolism presented in the texts. The central idea of the prevalence of inequality is presently displayed throughout the similarities of the themes in the books To Kill a Mockingbird as well as Uncle Tom’s Cabin as they address African American racism as a reaction to the oppression African Americans were experiencing when these pieces of literature were written. The most evident theme that is present in both books is the extreme prevalence of inequality. The beginning chapters of Uncle Tom’s Cabin illustrate this very clearly as Mr. and Mrs. Shelby have private conversations about their empathy for their personal slaves. They converse about how all of their other wealthy friends and acquaintances treat African Americans harshly. Mrs. Shelby weeps when two of her most precious slaves were traded due to financial necessities of the family. This is evidence of the fact that the prevalence of inequality is present in both the oppressed and oppressor. Similarly, in To Kill a Mockingbird, the prevalence of inequality is clearly displayed when Tom Robinson is accused of the crime of rape. Although his innocence proves clear throughout all of the evidence, the fact that Tom is an African American man while the prosecutor exists as a white female is enough for the entire community to turn on the black families. The prevalence of inequality plays a huge role in how both stories develop as a whole. While the inequality of races occurs throughout the two books, the good and evil of racism is also present. While generally unheard of during this time period, the slaves in Uncle Tom’s Cabin are treated extremely well. They are fed, bathed, and clothed extremely well. Their masters, the Shelbys, ensure that they maintain healthy relationships with them and that their families are almost never separated. Atticus Finch, a white lawyer, develops a unique and amazing relationship with Tom Robinson which never would have happened if the racism of the community had never occurred. Both books display this theme of the coexistence of good and evil within racism. As To Kill a Mockingbird and Uncle Tom’s Cabin explore the prevalence of inequality regarding African American Racism, there are several differences in the themes displayed due to the fact that they were written about two different aspects of racism. In the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the Christian opposition of slavery is one of the recurring themes. The slaves in the book repeatedly question whether or not white people were Christians because they own slaves. Christians are often prided for being generous, loving, and compassionate upon all people equally. However, people claiming to be Christians own farm plantations and beat their slaves until the can no longer walk, which evidently shows the incompatibility of Christianity and slavery. Christianity is hardly mentioned in To Kill a Mockingbird and the issue of slavery is not addressed, as it mostly focuses on African American racism. A different theme present in To Kill a Mockingbird is the value of education. This story is told from the perspective of children learning lessons throughout life. The children learn that school provides them with certain education while living life provides the most important lessons that are not taught from the classroom. The concept of education is not addressed in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, however, as education for African Americans is illegal during this time period. Another differing theme is presented as the empowerment of women in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Female slaves are valued even less than males, so it was difficult for women to prove themselves valuable. Eliza, a slave in the Shelby residence, crosses the icy river to save her child’s life, which is a feat never accomplished by even a man. Mrs. Shelby also stands up to her husband to protect the black people she loves. The empowerment of women and their accomplishments is extremely prevalent in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, while the only women talked about in To Kill a Mockingbird are helpless and raped and do not contribute significantly to the story.The central theme of the prevalence of inequality in To Kill a Mockingbird and Uncle Tom’s Cabin has been presented in similar ways by their uses of historical context due to the fact that these pieces of literature had been written around the same extended period of time during which extreme racial discrimination is occuring. In prefacing their books, both authors make it extremely clear that the purpose of writing their novels To Kill a Mockingbird and Uncle Tom’s Cabin is to raise awareness of African American racism and the negative effects that it was having on society. Evidence of this in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel is clearly presented as Mrs. Shelby expressed her frustration about the issue of slavery. In To Kill a Mockingbird, the author writes the story out of response to racial oppression she experiences throughout her own life. The characters in these pieces of literature display desperation in their oppression. An additional similarity in the historical context in both of these books is that they are constructed after the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. This creates a common ground for these two pieces of literature. The atmosphere of To Kill a Mockingbird and Uncle Tom’s Cabin is significantly different due to this law. A trial in response to this law also influences To Kill a Mockingbird’s writing: “In 1931, when Lee was five, nine young black men were accused of raping two women near Scottsboro, Alabama. After a series of . . .  bitter trials, five of the nine men were sentenced to long prison terms” (To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee: Sparknotes 1). Without the proper knowledge of the historical background, it is difficult to comprehend the cohesive connections of racial inequality. The contextual background for both of the books are similar in the purposes of creating the texts as well as in the response to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.Although the themes of racial inequality regarding African American racism in To Kill a Mockingbird and Uncle Tom’s Cabin are similar, there are differences in their uses of historical context to develop their overriding themes. Although these books appear to be strikingly similar to one another, one of the most glaring differences that is presented within the historical context is the date of publication. Uncle Tom’s Cabin is published in 1852, while To Kill a Mockingbird  finally becomes available for purchase in 1960. Another difference between the contextual background of the texts is the general attitude in approaching the subject of slavery within the very first pages of each book. Stowe presents Tom, an elderly African American slave, as an admirable example that all should follow. Tom’s Christian virtues and acceptance of his role in society truly shocks people who read Uncle Tom’s Cabin. In contrast. the historical context of To Kill a Mockingbird includes the negative atmosphere as the author approaches the theme of African American racism with a story about a false accusation of rape. From the very first chapters of the story, Lee makes it evident to the readers that blacks are regarded as lesser than those of European descent. The response of the public to these two books is not also extremely different. Brian Phillips, a professional literature analyst states that “Uncle Tom’s Cabin became one of the most widely read and deeply penetrating books of its time . . . Many historians have credited the novel with contributing the outbreak of the civil war” (David and Phillips 1). In contrast, To Kill a Mockingbird gains positive popular attention upon its release as the racial inequality is lessening during that particular time period. The historical contexts of the two stories are extremely differing due to the approaches of the authors towards the subject of racial inequality while also presenting contrasting time periods in the background and setting of the novels.Similar themes of racial inequality towards African Americans in To Kill a Mockingbird and Uncle Tom’s Cabin have been established in similar ways by their uses of motifs throughout the entirety of the books. The most recurring motif that is presented within both of the stories is the supernatural. A fitting example of this in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin is when Eliza crosses the raging icy river to help her young son escape. Other people who witness this event swear that it is only by a supernatural force that allows her to cross to the other side of the river without being swept away. This supports the central theme that even supernatural forces realize that the racially oppressed need dire assistance. Another instance where the supernatural is displayed in this book was when Tom experiences supernatural visions when he faces extreme racial hardships on a plantation. To Kill a Mockingbird also displays supernatural elements in the strange events that occur in the story. A mysterious fire consumes Miss Maudie’s house that could only be explained by irregular forces. Another motif shared by To Kill a Mockingbird and Uncle Tom’s Cabin is tragedy. Tragedy is so prevalent within these pieces of literature that it almost becomes a thematic element. Examples of tragedies in Uncle Tom’s Cabin include the taking of Eliza’s son, the selling of Uncle Tom to a cruel plantation, and Eva’s death due to the mistreatment shown by her slave master. These events support the racial inequality experienced by displaying the harsh side effects that occurred as a result. Similarly, To Kill a Mockingbird illustrates tragedy with the accusation that an innocent African American man raped a white female, the violent acts of racism in the community, as well as the death of Tom Robinson. Yet again the theme of African American racial prejudices is supported through the motifs as they display evidence of the negative side effects of racism.Although the theme of African American racial inequality in To Kill a Mockingbird and Uncle Tom’s Cabin is similar, there are differences in their uses of motifs as the stories develop. Uncle Tom’s Cabin uniquely makes use of Christ-figures repeatedly as the fictional story of racial injustice develops. The first example of a Christ-figure in this story is when Uncle Tom volunteers to leave his loving master to be put on a cruel plantation in place of all of his relatives. This imitates the image of Jesus Christ as he was sent to bear the sufferings of earth on the entire world’s behalf. Christ-figures are also presented in the terrible deaths of Tom and Eva on a plantation. Even Uncle Tom’s tone reflects a heroic attitude: “Witness, eternal God! Oh, witness that, from this hour, I will do what man can to drive out this curse of slavery from my land” (Stowe 476). Just as Uncle Tom’s Cabin displays a unique motif, so also did To Kill a Mockingbird in the book’s repeated use of birds. During iconic scenes, the author oftentimes includes a bird within the setting. An example of this is while Atticus is explaining to his children the importance of education, a mockingbird sings sweetly in the distance. Jean Louise Finch also comments about the uniqueness of birds themselves within the text: “”Your father’s right,” she said, “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird”” (Lee ?). The differing motifs presented in the two pieces of literature help to display the theme of racial inequality through the Christ-figures in Uncle Tom’s Cabin as well as the birds in To Kill a Mockingbird through their conveyance of sacredness and innocence.The theme of African American racial injustice in To Kill a Mockingbird and Uncle Tom’s Cabin are presented in similar ways by their uses of symbolism. These two iconic books share several identical hidden symbols within their stories. One example includes the many symbolic instances of destroyed innocence. Uncle Tom’s Cabin presents this symbol numerous times. One such symbol is Mr. Shelby’s son George. George’s existence exists as a symbol of destroyed innocence as a result to his raw exposure to slavery while growing up. His entire childhood comprises of being catered to by slaves and watching his slaves quietly suffer for the benefit of their master. In To Kill a Mockingbird, the mockingbird in the story symbolizes destroyed innocence. Tom Robinson is considered a “mockingbird” due to his innocence while on trial. Lee alludes to this point when discussing Mr. Underwood with the words, “Mr. Underwood didn’t talk about miscarriages of justice, he was writing so children could understand. Mr. Underwood simply figured it was a sin to kill cripples, be they standing, sitting, or escaping. He likened Tom’s death to the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children” (Lee 323). This event also destroys the innocence of the children in the small town of Maycomb due to this emotional exposure. The cabin in Uncle Tom’s Cabin also symbolizeds a sanctuary. This house exists as a safe place slaves can gather and live their evening lives as normal people. To Kill a Mockingbird also illustrates the symbolism of a sanctuary through Atticus Finch. As a white male, he offers Tom Robinson and his family a safe and secure place to stay and provides comfort while going through difficult times. Although To Kill a Mockingbird and Uncle Tom’s Cabin both present elements that symbolize destroyed innocence and sanctuaries, they are vital for the representation of racial inequality.While the similar theme of African American racial injustice is extremely consistent throughout To Kill a Mockingbird and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, differences in the symbolism display contrasting elements of the same themes. Uncle Tom’s Cabin presents symbols of freedom repeatedly as the story develops. An example of an event that symbolizes freedom is Eliza’s leap. In order to save her son from a harsh slave master, Eliza courageously leaps across the partially frozen river, from ice patch to ice patch. Her leap is a symbolism of freedom in and of itself since she physically crosses over from one side to another. This analogy is comparable to African American inequality as slaves obtain their freedom by crossing the borders of the North and the South. Freedom is also symbolized by the deaths of Tom and Eva, as their physical bondages to slavery are relieved. A differing symbolism found in To Kill a Mockingbird id suffering. Boo Radley symbolizes suffering through his existence in the story. He is described with the following words: “An intelligent child emotionally damaged by his cruel father, Boo provides an example of the threat that evil poses to innocence and goodness” (To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee: SparkNotes 6). He is continuously ridiculed and terrorized by the people of his community, making him symbolic of suffering. The trial of Tom Robinson also symbolizes suffering within Maycomb. It is filled with false accusations, racial prejudice, and even death. The trial produces more suffering than justice. An analysis conducted on To Kill a Mockingbird describes Atticus’s efforts in eliminating this suffering: “Tracing Atticus’s place within the American imagination reveals some of the major fault lines in the struggle for racial equality over the past forty years . . .” (Mancini 79). Both Uncle Tom’s Cabin and To Kill a Mockingbird illustrate differing symbolism to support the theme of African American racial inequality.Throughout the books To Kill a Mockingbird and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the central theme of African American racial inequality is evidently displayed throughout the similar and different uses of literary elements. Additional themes of the prevalence of inequality as well as the good and evil of racism are used in conjunction in both books. The differing themes of educational values and the values of women also add contrasting elements to the book and its contribution to African American discrimination. The similarities of the responses to the Fugitive Slave act of 1850 and racial oppression are included within both To Kill a Mockingbird and Uncle Tom’s Cabin as historical context. Differing time periods illustrate the contrasting elements of historical context as well. Both books present the supernatural and tragedies as common motifs while also using individual motifs to support the theme of racial inequality. Finally, sanctuaries and destroyed innocence exist as common symbols throughout these pieces of text. The use of these as well as different individual symbols in both books capture the true essence of racism that exists within the stories.African American racism is displayed through the similarities and differences that are presented in To Kill a Mockingbird and Uncle Tom’s Cabin through numerous literary elements including themes and historical context regarding time periods and surrounding societal events, as well as numerous motifs and hidden symbolism presented in the texts.

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