The novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, written by Harper Lee is a story of racism discrimination, integrity and growing up in a town called Maycomb in the 1930s. Throughout the novel, readers are positioned by Harper Lee to accept the fact that society can hurt innocent individuals who have littler power because of race, age, gender or mental stability. These individuals include Tom Robinson, Boo Radley and Scout; they are symbolically represented as mockingbirds in the novel. Mockingbirds dont do one thing but make music for us to enjoy Thats why it is a sin to kill a mockingbird (Lee, 1960, p.99/100). Harper Lee communicates her ideology through these characters, and what happens to them.
Tom Robinson is a black American who is accused of raping Bob Ewells daughter; a white woman. Atticus Finch is assigned to defend Tom in court and when Scout, his daughter questions why he is defending a nigger, he says that [even though] we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win (Lee, 1960, p.84). Tom is a mockingbird because he only means well and was constantly singing out to Mrs Ewell - shed call me in, suh. Seemed like every time I passed by younder shed have some little somethin for me to do choppin kindlin, totin water for her (Lee, 1960, p.211). Even though Atticus clearly proves Toms innocence, it is never going to be good enough for the biased jury and Tom is convicted. When Jem questions why Tom was convicted, Atticus replies In our courts when its a white mans word against a black mans, the white man always wins. Theyre ugly but those are the facts of life. (Lee, 1960, p.243) Through Tom Robinson, Harper Lee has expressed how an individual can be damaged by society because of race. She also expresses her ideologies through Boo Radley.
Boo Radley is a mentally challenged man who hasnt been out of his house for twenty-five years. There are many rumours around the town about him including: people said he went out at night when the moon was high, and peeped in windows (Lee, 1960, p.9). Many town folk are scared of him and treat him like a mad man. The character, Boo, demonstrates how a society can damage an individual because of their mental stability. Boo Radley is a kind-natured man and who adores the children. When Jem and Scout were in trouble, Boo came out of his house and killed their attacker, Bob Ewell. Being a lawyer, Atticus could not ignore his responsibilities and began to talk about a court trial for Boo Radley until Mr Tate said taking the one man whos done you and this town a great service an draggin him with his shy ways into the limelight to me, thats a sin (Lee, 1960, p.304). Boo is a mockingbird, in that he only ever meant well by looking out for the children; he shouldnt be punished for this. Harper Lee has used Boo to convey her ideologies as much as she used the main character, Scout.
The main character in To kill a Mockingbird is Scout, Atticus young nave daughter. Scout plays an important role in the novel because her ideologies strongly represent those of the author, Harper Lee. She is discriminated as an individual by her brother, other children and adults, because of her age and gender. She is a mockingbird in the sense that she is a child just like all the other children at school, yet they make fun of her because she is a girl. She is also a human just like everyone else, yet the adults treat her as if she is too young to understand. She reaches out to Toms and Boos feelings and emotions, because she has felt them herself. When Atticus reflects upon Mr Tates thoughts about having a court trial for Boo, Scout speaks up and says: Well, itd be sort of like shootin a mockingbird, wouldnt it? (Lee, 1960, p.304). Scout understands what it feels like to be hurt by a society and accepts that Boo Radley only meant well by what he did. The attitudes, values and beliefs of Harper Lee are expressed through Scout Everyone deserves a fair trial and to be accepted.
The novel, To kill a Mockingbird represents the attitudes, values and beliefs of those who are mockingbirds and how they are treated by their neighbours. The novel communicates to readers that a society can damage individuals who have little power because of race, age, gender and mental stability. Harper Lee clearly expresses her ideology by creating the mockingbirds - Tom Robinson, Boo Radley and Scout, and by outlining what happens to them throughout the novel. Her novel begs readers to ask themselves why kill a mockingbird, when they only mean well?