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“Grandmother’s Victory” by Maya Angelou and To Kill A Mockingbird by
Harper Lee have many significant similarities. Both authors deal with issues
such as racism and discrimination towards blacks. The authors show the
ignorance and bigotry displayed between the races in the late 1930’s. The
main characters in “Grandmother’s Victory” are: Grandmother Henderson,
Maya Angelou, Miz Helen, Miz Ruth, and Miz Eloise who are known as
“powhitetrash”. The main characters in “To Kill A Mockingbird” are:
Atticus Finch, Jem Finch, Scout Finch, Tom Robinson, and Mrs. Dubose.
The authors show how each character deals with the issues at hand, yet each
story has its own unique style of a “victory”.
“Grandmother’s Victory” takes place in Arkansas around the late
1930’s. “To Kill A Mockingbird” takes place in Alabama also around the late
1930’s. The late 30’s in the South was very difficult (to say the least) for
black folks. Grandmother Henderson and Maya are experiencing racism
from three lower class white girls. “If they come in the store, you go in the
bedroom and let me wait on them. They only frighten me if you’re around.”
Atticus and the children are experiencing harassment from other white folks,
for defending a “nigger” named Tom Robinson. “But Mrs. Dubose held us:
“Not only a Finch waiting on tables but one in the courthouse lawing for
niggers!” These quotes show the attitude of most whites towards blacks in
this time period. There is a very interesting difference in these two stories.
In Grandmother’s Victory it is white children harassing the blacks. This
scenario is the case you usually hear about. However, in To Kill A
Mockingbird it is whites harassing other whites for befriending a black. The
most common name for Atticus was “nigger lover”.
Atticus doesn’t mind the names or being harassed when he is alone. It
bothers Atticus when people would harass Jem and Scout. Atticus teaches
his children to treat everyone equal and to ignore the people who don’t agree.
Grandmother Henderson does the same thing with Maya. Grandmother
teaches Maya to ignore the harassment and not to sink to their level. If you
lose your cool and start fighting back, the problem will never go away. The
best method of defense is to ignore the harassment and the harassers will lose
interest. “Momma never turned her head or unfolded her arms, but she
stopped singing and said, “Bye, Miz Helen, bye, Miz Ruth, bye, Miz Eloise.”
I burst. A firecracker July-the-Fourth burst. How could Momma call them
Miz?” Atticus uses the same technique on Mrs. Dubose as Grandmother
does on the girls. “When the three of us came to her house, Atticus would
sweep off his hat, wave gallantly to her and say, “Good evening, Mrs.
Dubose! You look like a picture this evening.” These methods of politeness
drive the kids (Jem, Scout, and Maya) mad. They don’t understand how
Atticus and Grandmother can be so nice to people who are so mean to them.
Children are not born with any hate or racism in their blood. Children
are like a sponge, they absorb the world around them. That world around
them shapes the child and has a major influence in that child’s life. Then,
one generation passes it to the next and the next and so on. Atticus tries to
instill good morals in his children. He shows them the difference between
right and wrong. He can’t always be with the kids so he has to trust them to
make their own decisions. Grandmother also teaches Maya right and wrong.
Grandmother is teaching Maya how to deal with the issue of racism. She’s
showing her how to be bigger than the others and ignore it. In either case,
Atticus and Grandmother are showing the kids how to handle these problems
in the correct manner.
Racism is the link that bonds these two stories, “Grandmother’s
Victory” and To Kill A Mockingbird, together. Mmm… Maybe racism is the
wrong word for the issues dealt with in these stories. Maybe the word should
be “powerism”. By powerism I mean people feeling the need to be better
than someone who is different than they. Maybe the Blacks vs.. Whites is
simply a disguise for selfishness. I wonder why the “powhitetrash” girls and
Mrs. Dubose hate blacks? They probably don’t, they are different so they are
easy targets for harassment. Respect is probably the thing that racist people
are lacking the most; not respect for the other race, but respect for
themselves. If you have self-respect, why should you feel the need to put
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