To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a coming of age story about Scout Finch and her brother Jem in 1930s Alabama. They live with their father, Atticus Finch who is a lawyer. Through their adventures and their father, they learn to understand that life is not always fair and that prejudice is a very real part of their world no matter how hard it is disguised.
During the summer when Scout was six and Jem was ten, they met a young boy named Dill who was spending the summer with his aunt who lived next door to the Finches. Dill and Jem became curious about, their reclusive neighbor Boo Radley, that they made it their mission to get him to come out of his home. They try so many plans, but nothing draws him out of the house. However, over time, the children have formed a ghost like friendship with Boo Radley, and realize that he deserves to live in peace, so they leave him alone.
While the children are enjoying their summer, Atticus Finch takes on a case that puts an innocent black man named Tom Robinson against two dishonest white men. Atticus knows the social climate of this time and he will lose but he has to take on this case or cannot live with himself. The case is the biggest thing to hit Maycomb County and it turns the whole town against Atticus. Scout and Jem witness the harsh realities of racism and the cruelty of people toward them and their father. They watch with disillusionment as their neighbors convict an innocent man because of his race. The only enemy Atticus makes is Bob Ewell, the man who accused Tom Robinson of raping his daughter. Atticus, because of his moral code does not see Bob Ewell as a threat.
Tom Robinson is sent to prison to await another trial, Tom is shot for trying to escape prison. The case is now over and life seems to get back to normal. On Halloween night, Bob Ewell attacks Jem and Scout as they are returning from a pageant. Unbeknown to the children, Boo Radley rescues them and kills Bob Ewell. After all the heartbreak the town has been through because of the trial, the sherrif, Heck Tate protects Boo and tells everyone that Bob Ewell fell on his own knife while struggling with Jem.
Through the events of the past two years, Scout learns that no matter what their differences, the people of Maycomb County are just people. She learns that once you get to know people, most of them are good and kind no matter what they look like on the outside.
To Kill a Mockingbird is my all-time favorite novel. I first read this novel when I was twelve years old when it was given to me as a Christmas present. After reading it, it left such an impression on me. Now that I am an older and have reread this novel it strikes me as such a social and moral piece of work.
It has become clear to me that Harper Lee dealt with many topics in writing this story. According to Blooms Literary Reference on line, facts on file companion to the American novel, Lee wrote this novel and draws upon her loving recollections of her own childhood in the south (p1). The topic I would like to focus on is the goodness of the characters and point out examples from the chapters of the novel.
Chapter 4 Boo Radley is leaving gifts for Scout and Jem in the oak tree. He leaves Indian head pennies and gum because he does not want the children to be afraid of him. This is his way of making friends with the children.
Chapter 7 Boo Radley found Jems pants all tangled in the fence and sewed them for him and left them folded back across the fence. This made Jem a bit nervous because whoever did this for him actually knew him. Jem tells his sister of what happened and the two of them were confused. Boo Radley kept on leaving little presents for Jem and Scout in the oak tree. The children were happy to keep getting gifts and after a while they started to think it was Boo leaving the gifts and became happy.
Chapter 8 Scout and Jem were standing in the cold night air watching Miss Maudies house burn down and they were shivering. Scout did not realize until Atticus pointed it out that someone had given her a blanket without her knowing it. Boo Radley sneaked up behind her and put the blanket on her shoulders.
Chapter 15 Atticus stayed at the jailhouse to protect Tom Robinson because he knew the danger he was in. Because he was such a moral person he wanted Tom to be able to tell his side of the story in court.
Chapter 22 After Tom Robinson is convicted, Jem is so upset and disillusioned. Miss Maudie tried to explain to Jem that not all of the people in Maycomb County were cruel and heartless. Maudie told Scout that Judge Taylor helped Tom by appointing Atticus to be toms attorney because the court appointed attorney did not care and would not have done a good job. In a roundabout way, Miss Maudie also tried to explain that not all the townspeople were prejudiced and there were good Christian ones left.
Chapter 29 Boo Radley came out of his house because Scout and Jem were being attacked by Bob Ewell. Boo rescued the children and put himself in danger of being seen by the townspeople. He left his house without thinking about himself because he cared for the children.
Chapter 30 Heck Tate and Scout realize that it is important to keep Boo Radleys role in Bob Ewells death a secret because they want to protect him. Boo did a courageous thing so the sherrif and Scout change their story of how Bob Ewell died. To bring Boo Radley into this mess would be a sin.
I have pointed some examples of goodness from the book because the story deals with the morality of human beings. I believe that Harper Lee wants the reader to explore good versus evil to decide whether people are essentially good or essentially evil.
Atticus Find is the moral center of the novel, as well as the unacknowledged center of his childrens universe (p.1) Atticus Finch is portrayed by Lee to have experienced evil and understands it without losing his faith in mankind. Atticus holds himself to a strict code of personal morality: before I can live with other folks Ive got to live with myself. The one thing that doesnt abide by majority rule is a persons conscience (p.1). Atticus understands that most people have good and bad qualities. He tries to teach Jem and Scout that you need to understand people for their good qualities and bad qualities. Atticus never wants the children to lose hope and as the story moves on, you begin to see the maturity of Jem and Scout as the trial proceeds and coming to terms with who Boo Radley is. Towards the end of the story, Scout begins to see Boo Radley as a real person not a ghost anymore.
The story is a lesson in morals as seen through the eyes of children. We see a lot of the moral education through Scout. Atticus has a strong relationship with his children and he is determined to make sure that his children have a conscience. The children are constantly faced with the moral and social climate of their town. One of the biggest subjects in the story is racism and is a popular theme in the story. The trial of Tom Robinson was a farce but because he was black, he was guilty in the eyes of the townspeople of Maycomb County. Lee brings out that the thinking of the townspeople is irrational and destructive.
Now that I have touched upon a few themes of the story, I would like to speak about the title, To Kill a Mockingbird. R.A Dave points out
To Kill a Mockingbird is quite an ambiguous title, the infinitive leaving a wide scope of adverbial queries how, when, where, and of course, why all leading to intriguing speculation and suspense.