Scouts’ maid Calpurnia takes her and
her brother to a Negro church. They are stopped by a lady and told to leave. We
as the reader are able to see a different side of racism. Before this, we have
only seen white against black. Now, we are able to see black against white. It
shows that no matter the skin tone, we are all human and have faults. Except
for the one lady, the rest of the congregation welcomes the children. The
reader is given a look at the black community in Maycomb and we are able to see
how unfair the racist white population is. Scouts’ friend Dill returns to
Maycomb. Dill represents youthful innocence. His appearance brings some joy to
a tense time. When Tom Robinson is being moved to another jail, a mob attempted
to get their “revenge”. Atticus and the kids stop them. Scouts brother Jem sees
the seriousness of the situation and prepares to fight for his father’s safety.
Scout does not understand what is actually happening. She is unable to see the
danger that they are in. Surprisingly, her naivety is what diffuses the
situation and sends the mob home. This is important because it shows how Scout
views the world. Through out the novel she relates to her adult and child
perspective. That gives the novel innocence and makes horrifying details seem
In this section, everything shifts to a darker side. Dill, who is
portrayed as goodness, is leaving and the trial really begins. The children are
exposed to the unjustness of the real world. Tom is pronounced guilty even
though there is no evidence in support of the charge. The children are visibly
upset about the jury’s decision and say that it is unjust. During the trial,
Dill takes a sip of Mr. Raymond’s strange liquid. Everyone in the town assumes
that it is alcohol because he is married to a black woman. However, Dill tells
the others that it is only Coca Cola. That shows how judgmental the people of
Maycomb are. After the trial, it is revealed that one of the Cunningham’s was
on the jury and was the toughest to break down and say that Tom was guilty.
Scout asks if he can have the Cunningham’s over for dinner. She is not allowed
because they are not the ‘right kind of people’. The children begin to
understand that there is only one kind of people and that everyone is equal.
Character development is shown here as the children go back to the idea of Boo
Radley. Jem states that, “I think I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley
stays shut up in his house all the time. It’s because he wants to stay inside.”
wrote a piece for the newspaper saying that Tom’s death was a “senseless
slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children”. I found it interesting that
the author added that Mr. Underwood wrote this piece simply enough for children
to understand. I believe that he was trying to change the result of racism by
going after the next generation. The elders of Maycomb are portrayed as stuck
in their ways, whereas children have open minds and the ability to change. The
ending of the book comes back to Boo Radley once more. Boo has become a symbol
for change and still holds Scout’s fascination. When Jem and Scout are walking
home from a Halloween pageant, the deranged Bob Ewell jumps them. Boo Radley
comes to their rescue and stabs Ewell. He saves their lives. It shows that Boo
Radley was always looking out for them. He changed from a menace to a hero in
To Kill A Mockingbird is based on
the small, made-up town of Maycomb, Alabama during the 1930’s. Despite the
issues of racism and the Depression, the sleepy town is described as a place
where everyone felt safe and kept their doors unlocked. Maycomb is a quiet place where nothing
happens and nothing changes. Until Tom’s case, there have not been many reasons
to use the gothic looking single cell jail or large courthouse. A grey, spooky
house provides residence to the boogeyman and a house with fire damage is
nearby. There is a house overgrown with white camellias and a home with two
children living inside. With rainy weather “the streets turned to red slop;
grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square.” Being in the
South, the blistering sun beat down regularly. The dialogue used often
references southern dialect and drawl. Many of the houses are designed with traditional
gothic features and large front porches. In Alabama there are large open fields
and groves of trees with trunks so large that you cannot wrap your arms around
it. The setting is influential to the events and characters in the novel.
Atticus Finch is the most important character in this novel. Without
him, the story would have no meaning. He taught his children his values and
lessons. Being a widower, he had his fair share of hardships and challenges. After
his wife’s death, his children’s safety becomes imperative to him. When he took
on Tom Robinson’s case, he did not just fear for his own safety, but the
wellbeing of his children. As a resident of Maycomb Alabama, he has dealt with
racism and the cruelty of prejudice. He is able to look past others
appearances, and see them for who they really are.
Atticus taking on Tom Robinson’s
case was very dangerous. However, he defends Tom to the best of his ability
because he needs to follow his internal moral code. Even though he was forced
to take the case, he did not have to help Tom as much as he did. He knows Tom
to be innocent and believes in the equality of the justice system. All of his
actions are based on his character and what he believes to be right. He lives
on his own terms and chooses to abide by his conscience.
The main conflict that Atticus
experienced in this novel was self versus society. It was simple for him to act in the way he
felt right, but it was more complicated to stay respectful to those who oppose
him. Despite the ignorance of society, he managed to always remain calm and use
words instead of fists to get his point across. Another conflict that he had to
deal with was self versus self. He had to make the choice to help Tom despite
the danger in might out his children in. However, he was able to teach them by
example how to deal with difficult people and circumstances. He knew that if he
did not do his best to help Tom, he would lose respect for himself. He chose
the type of person and father that he wanted to be.
Throughout To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus
and those close to him were put into danger. Atticus received many threats and
was almost injured or possibly worse by an angry mob. He was in constant fear
that he would be harmed. He knew that until the trial was over, he would not be
safe. He feared for Tom’s safety and verdict of an all white jury. He was
frightened for Tom’s life and that with all of the factors opposing him, he
might not have a fair trial. Even with his opposition, Atticus took the conflict
as a chance to teach a lesson and to be courageous. His dreams of being a role
model to his children were accomplished and he was able to teach them many
important lessons. Although he knew that Tom would not be freed, he hoped that
the people of Maycomb would begin to change their views and stop the same
consequences from happening in the future.
Atticus Finch is described as pure,
with strong morals and southern grace. He is not concerned with what others
think and is fine to live his life in peace. He treats those around him with
respect and is willing to do whatever it takes to treat others equally. Miss Maudie stated that, “Atticus Finch is the
same in his house as he is on the public streets.” What I find most unique
about Atticus is how far ahead of the times he is. It would be unheard of in
the 30’s to let his children attend a black church or to let a colored woman
help raise his kids and be a mother figure to them. He makes many choices throughout his life that
would have been thought of as shocking but are now accepted in current society.
Without people like Atticus in real life, our current world would have been
very different and far behind.
Even though Atticus is a beloved
character, I do not think that he is believable. He is described to be pure and
to not have flaws. Harper Lee has made built him up as if he is a saint.
However, everyone makes mistakes and has faults. I understand coming from a
child perspective to see a father figure as perfect, but the story is only
being told from one side. It seems like the author is using Atticus to get her
ideas across to readers, instead of making his character realistic.
The title of To Kill A Mockingbird is taken very literally in the
text. “To kill a mockingbird,” means to put an end to morality. Mockingbirds
represent goodness and purity. Tom Robinson and Boo Radley act as mockingbirds
by being innocents that are negatively affected by the forces around them. Robinson
was killed which shows how immoral society is. Mockingbirds are featured
throughout the novel. When the children are shooting guns, Atticus tries to
warn them not to shoot a mockingbird. Later Ms. Maudie explains that it is
because mockingbirds are innocent and to kill one would be unjust. At the end
of the novel, the discussion of whether Boo Radley should go to court for
stabbing Bob Ewell arises. Scout remarks, “It would be sort of like shootin’ a
mockingbird, wouldn’t it?”
Boo Radley is spoken of several
times throughout the novel. When Scout is young, she sees him as a menacing
figure or a “boogeyman”. When she is older, he begins to change in her eyes and
she sees the innocent character that he is. Radley is first mentioned when Dill
comes to the decision that the children should try to make Boo come out of his
house. Their curiosity is stronger than their fear. Boo tries to interact with
them by leaving little gifts in the tree at the front of his yard. That shows how
lonely Boo is and how much he craves human contact. Eventually his brother
fills the hole in the tree with cement to keep the kids away. During a fire at
a nearby house, Boo places a blanket on Scout’s shoulders to prevent her from
being cold. Scout is beginning to understand Boo more. After the trial scene,
Scout and Jem talk about Boo and decide that he is not a creep, but rather
someone who prefers to stay isolated than to be judged by the rest of the town.
At the end of the novel, Boo saves both Jem and Scout’s lives. Boo whispers to
Scout, “Will you take me home.” His voice was almost childlike. She sees Boo as
he really is and understands that he is just misunderstood. Boo represents
goodness and innocence.
Death is an important motif featured in many of the scenes of this
novel. Three main characters die; Tom Robinson, Bob Ewell, and Mrs. Dubose.
Tom’s death was a very significant event and a turning point of the plot. After
convicted, he was shot seventeen times during an escape attempt. This is
important because those who were not prejudiced knew that he was innocent. Mrs.
Dubose passed away from a drug overdose.
Jem was impacted as he was close to Mrs. Dubose. Bob Ewell’s death marked the end of the book
and gave Atticus’ family peace. Everyone
who wanted to harm the Finch family was gone.
Death is important to character development and plot of this story as it
portrayed how far prejudice was ingrained in society at that time in history.
Harper Lee conveys that the
main theme in To Kill A Mockingbird is the effect of prejudice in society.
During the trial scene, the evidence proved Tom Robinson to be innocent.
However, the jury found him guilty. That shows that they cared more about the
color of his skin than facts. Boo Radley separates himself from the rest of
Maycomb because he would be unfairly viewed as different. He is not mentally
stable and chooses to stay inside rather than face the judgment of the world. In
contrast to societal views, Boo Radley is a good person with a kind heart. At
the end of the novel, Radley saves both Jem and Scout lives from danger.
Atticus Finch is also persecuted because of his choice to defend a black man’s
life. Atticus felt that it was his role to defend the innocent, no matter the
color of their skin. However, society was so close-minded that they were only
able to see Robinson ‘s skin color. His skin being a darker color than most,
proved him guilty in society’s eyes.
Harper Lee conveys the main
theme in To Kill A Mockingbird as fear. When Atticus is protecting Tom Robinson
from an angry mob, Jem is prepared to fight. Despite his naivety, he understands most of the frightening
events going on around him. Scout however, is gullible and believes every lie
told to keep her safe. In the beginning of the novel, Scout explores fears of
Boo Radley and his “haunted house”. Societal rumours have made her believe that
he is the boogeyman. Throughout, Scout is able to separate childhood fears from
real fears as the dangers become more obvious. Atticus in turn has his own
fears. He knows that he is unlikely to win the case, but fears that Tom
Robinson will have a fate worse than death. He does everything he can to
protect him, but in the end, society is too strong and Robinson is killed unmercifully.
To Kill A Mockingbird is a classic because it deals with issues that
can affect anyone at anytime. The topics that are discussed in this novel are
timeless and mark important events in our history. Despite the serious topics,
Harper Lee adds humor and sentiment. She manages to draw the reader in and
continue to captivate them. This book will make you laugh and cry, but most
importantly, it will make you think about the world, yourself, and how far we
have come as a society. By reading this novel, people face the harsh reality of
the world and can change their actions. In that way, the gruesome themes in
this novel might not be repeated. Around the world, people have dealt with
racism, judgment, and persecution. Anyone reading this novel will be able to
relate to it in some way. To Kill A Mockingbird has won the Pulitzer Prize and
has sold over forty million copies. Although this novel was written fifty-eight
years ago, it is still relevant today.