To Kill A Mockingbird - Thomas Phillips Essay

To Kill A Mockingbird Thomas Phillips Essay

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To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee is a book about the prejudice, discrimination and bigotry that existed throughout much of America during the l930 s. It is a powerful story, narrated by a young girl, named Scout, whose innocent, na ve eyes reveal the hypocrisy and prejudice in her small Southern town. To Kill A Mockingbird explores many different themes that are skillfully woven into the plot. A black man named Tom Robinson is put on trial for allegedly raping a young white woman from the least respected family in town. Scout s father, Atticus, is appointed to defend the man accused of the crime. Maycomb, a town built on prejudice, is also steeped in the mystery of Boo Radley, a shy, bashful man who is feared and mistreated. Eventually, Boo Radley is appreciated and admired because he carries Scout s brother Jem to safety, away from Bob Ewell who was intent on hurting them as an act of revenge against their father Atticus who had proved him a liar during Robinson s trial. Scout finally accepts Boo as a nice friend and Atticus tells her that most people are nice when you get to know them. I d rather you shoot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you ll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit em, but remember it s a sin to kill a mockingbird, said Atticus. The reason the book is named To Kill a Mockingbird is that the mockingbird is a symbol for Tom Robinson and Boo Radley along with many other characters in a more vague way.The mockingbird characters throughout this novel do not harm anyone and are basically peaceful in nature, but are discriminated against because of the values the small town of Maycomb harbored since it was founded. Harper Lee adds characters, issues and situations, which must be filtered through Scout s mind and expressed, despite the fact that she is oblivious to many of these concepts. Her innocence adds an irony to the story since the issues are complicated and ambiguous. Certain characters have absorbed the ways of Maycomb county and are unwilling to change, while others such as Atticus and his neighbor Miss Maudie are very opened minded, seeing the problems of Maycomb very clearly. Atticus and Maudie treat Jem and Scout like adults, willing to hear what they say and truly listen to their ideas. Therefore, the children absorb more education from Atticus and Miss Maudie than formal schooling could ever provide. Many lessons taught by Atticus are directly correlated with the events occurring in the novel. One of these lessons is to never shoot a mockingbird because they do nothing to harm us and only supply a beautiful song for our ears. All of the lessons are important in the maturity of the children, and their views about prejudice and hypocrisy in their town. One lesson that relates to the mockingbird theme and also looks at the hypocrisy of the town is when Cecil, one of Scout s classmates, speaks about Adolf Hitler s campaign to rid the earth of the Jewish population. Scout s teacher, Mrs. Gates says, Over here we don t believe in persecuting anybody. Persecution comes from people who are prejudiced. This statement confuses Scout because the town persecutes everyone that is different or from the outside. Earlier in the book, Scout overheard Mrs. Gates say, It was time that somebody taught them a lesson, while walking down the steps in front of the courthouse after Tom s trial. From this statement, Scout concludes that them is black people. Scout cannot understand how her teacher can feel good about Tom Robinson being unfairly convicted yet feel so passionately about the prejudice being inflicted on the Jews. The issue of discrimination is widespread throughout this novel. During the trial, it is evident that the testimony that Mayella Violet Ewell gave to the jury was false and was forced upon her. She did not want to testify falsely however she realized the repercussions the truth would bring. Due to this, she refused to reveal that Tom Robinson was innocent. Although the truth is not revealed by her testimony, Atticus exposes it in a brilliant way, leaving no room for doubt. He explains to the jury that Mayella was the aggressor, however the jury decides it is much better to convict a Negro man than believe that a white woman made sexual advances to a black man. Through Atticus questions it is discovered that Mayella
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