In Harper Lee's novel To Kill A Mockingbird, many themes are introduced. The first half of the book deals with family, society, and truth. The second half deals with law, and most importantly, race.

Race is a major theme in To Kill A Mockingbird. The book is set in the 1930's, a time where racism and segregation were not only common, but tolerated. The two main characters, Jem and Scout live in a small Alabama town where racism is rampant. They are fortunate enough to have an open minded loving father such as Atticus, who will admit to anyone that he does his best to love everyone equally. Atticus is asked to defend a black man wrongfully accused in court, and accepts the job. A white man defending a black man stirs up drama in the town, and Jem and Scout start to wonder why their neighbors, classmates, and family start to jeer at them. Atticus knows that there is no choice but to expose them to the world they live in, and how things are. At nine and twelve, Jem and Scout are going to see some vicious racism acted out in front of them.

It's fairly clear from the start of the book that white people consider themselves the hierarchy in Maycomb. The word ''nigger'' is used by everyone, even first graders commonly, and black people are considered low class. Even white people who associate themselves with Negroes are shunned (i.e. Mr Dolphous Raymond), and branded with the term ''nigger lover''.
There are a couple people in the book, such as Atticus and Miss Maudie who don't think like this, but the majority of the adults do. The kids simply throw around terms and slang that they do not even know the meaning of. It is drummed into the heads of the children from day one just how ''bad'' black people are.

Scout, Jem, and their friend Dill go to town to watch Tom Robinson's trial, and like a play, the true racism of the time is acted out in front of them. When Tom is tried, he is sent into the court with everyone believing what he supposedly did was true, simply because of his race. As the trial progresses it becomes clear to everyone who really choked Mayella, and what actually happened. But because the judges couldn't believe a black man's word, Tom is sent to jail because of this. As disgusting as this is, this is really how is was back then.

Even in the end of the story, many of the character' perspectives don't change. But at the end, Scout, and Jem have learned a valuable lesson - don't judge a book by it's cover - or a human by it's skin. Viewing the cruelty of the world in court room in its full intensity for a few hours, they stand in Tom's shoes and walk around.