To Kill a Mockingbird

What does Ms.Gates explain about persecution?

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One day during Current Events, Scout's class gets into a discussion about Hitler and the persecution of the Jews. Her teacher, Miss Gates, speaks at length about how the German dictatorship allows for the Jews to be persecuted by a prejudiced leader, but she claims that in America, "we don't believe in persecuting anybody." Scout finds Miss Gates hypocritical because she remembers that on the day of Tom's trial, she overheard Miss Gates say that she thought it was, "time somebody taught them a lesson, they thought they was getting' way above themselves, an' the next thing they think they can do is marry us." "Them" meant black people.


Miss Gates's statement that the persecuted Jews have contributed to every society they've been a part of implies that blacks are not contributing in any way to American society. She hypocritically believes that the Jews deserve sympathy because they are white, whereas the persecuted group of the blacks still deserves second-class citizenship. She also insinuates that because the United States is a democracy, fairness is available for all, when blacks are suffering from the same kinds of discrimination and segregation that Jews experience in Hitler's dictatorial regime. The "democracy" she speaks of is not an all-inclusive one that offers the same rights to all. Scout's awareness of her teacher's hypocrisy once again demonstrates her powerful understanding of the true meaning of fairness and equality. Jem is clearly still distraught by the trial, and needs time to allow his still adolescent mind to understand the events in a more adult way.