To Kill a Mockingbird
Character Analysis of Harper Lee’s to Kill a Mockingbird
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
Harper Lee’s novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, first published in 1960, depicts the characters’ personalities in the small town Maycomb County, Alabama, and how they developed due to the major events. The moment Atticus Finch was assigned the Tom Robinson’s case, his life and the life of his children began to change. Scout begins to learn the danger in the world and so changes from being naïve to an understanding person. Jem begins to understand the way of life and the struggles that many people encounter due to the nature of the small town. He develops from the carefree person he was, to a young gentleman who understands how society really works. The dramatic character development was the result of the major events throughout the course of the book.
In ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, the story is centred around the main character, Scout and how she changed dramatically due to the major key events. Scout began to experience the cruelty of the world in her early ages, and although the story takes place over the course of three years, Scout learns a lifetime’s worth of lessons in that period. Throughout the course of the book, Scout matures from being innocent, and naïve to a compassionate and an understanding child. During the novel, Scout’s innocence was underlined with her interaction with Mr. Cunningham, that was exemplified when she said, “Hey Mr. Cunningham. How’s your entailment gettin’ along?…I go to school with Walter…and he does right well. He’s a good boy.” She could not comprehend the danger around her, and how such a situation could have resulted in violence. In the book there are many events which unfolds and dramatically impact her development as a child. During the trail, Scout then begins to understand that people are not as society makes them to be, this is demonstrated when she said, “Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.” In beginning of the book Scout was clueless of the threats and the cruel behaviours of the society. Although, due to the lawsuit, she changed dramatically into a sympathetic character.
The writer depicts the maturation of Jeremy Finch, due to the key events, by his attitude and his views on life. Jeremy represents the idea of bravery, he believed that bravery is show in actions such as enlisting in the war, or never turning down a dare. This was conveyed when Scout said, “in all his life, he had never declined a dare”, however, his definition of bravery was challenged throughout the book. Jeremy begins to learn that bravery doesn’t have to be a person holding a gun, but from the heroic actions of the people in his life. Like many other adolescents, Jem was an idealist. Even after Atticus’ long explanation about the intricacies of the Tom Robinson case, Jem was still shocked about the jury’s conviction. That was evident throughout Scout’s point of view, “his face was streaked with angry tears”, proceeding that he told Atticus ‘it aint right’. Consequently, he broke down into tears during the trial, knowing that the trail was unjust. Those actions easily identify the fact that, just like Scout, Jeremy began to understand that life was more than just accepting a dare. Due to the lawsuit, and being thrust into confronting situations, Jem begins to change and develop an understanding that the society isn’t as it is portrayed, and his morals were challenged.
Although the theme of change is conveyed throughout the book a multiple of times due to the key events, Atticus Finch is a character that does not have much of character development. Atticus remains truthful to his children and the town. Atticus represents morality and reason in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. As a character, Atticus is even-handed throughout the course of the book. Atticus treats his children as adults, honestly answering any question that his children ask. Despite the fact that he treats his children like adults, he is aware that they are still young and patiently recognizes that they are children and that they will make childish mistakes and assumptions. Miss Maudie clarifies that by saying “Atticus Finch is the same in his house as he is on the public streets.” This quote demonstrates that Atticus is not a man to easily change. Both Jem and Scout were affected by the lawsuit, yet, Atticus remained unaffected. All throughout the course of the book, Atticus remains the calm, collected, honest person he always was. He was one of the only characters that did not develop a change due to the major events that occurred in the book.
Due to the onset of the lawsuit, and many other events, many of the character’s personality developed and changed. The protagonists Scout and Jem both begin to understand society and grasp knowledge of how cruel and unjust society is, and that labels are very common in the small town of Maycomb County. The major key events were the trigger for each of the character’s development. Therefore, if Atticus Finch was not assigned the Tom Robinson’s case, the characters, Scout and Jem, would have never changed. They would have remained oblivious to the harsh cruelty of the world. However, even with the Tom Robinson’s case, Atticus’ personality always stayed the same. Lee demonstrates that as a result of the trial, the personality and the understanding of the characters, Jem and Scout, changed. Yet, Atticus Finch continued to have the same character.
An Examination of Prejudice in to Kill a Mockingbird, a Novel by Harper Lee
The Devastation of Prejudice
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, is a book about racism and coming of age for the character Jem during the Great Depression era in small-town Alabama seen from the perspective of a six-year-old girl. Prejudice is directly defined as a preformed opinion about a person or group of persons. In this context, however, prejudice is seen as disregard towards a group of people by considering them as lesser in the society (Maddox n.p). According to Atticus, prejudice can only exist where people are many, and there is a lack of closeness, and so, prejudice should not exist in Maycomb. Furthermore, prejudice against the characters in the story is characterized by discrimination, dislike, and disregard due to race, gender or opinion. In the 1930s America, as being shown in the novel, prejudice is seen to exist and affect mostly the Black race even though the women also face discrimination. The three classes of prejudice presented in the novel are a social prejudice which is discrimination based on one’s social status. Racial prejudice which is discrimination by race and gender prejudice is discrimination by gender.
In the novel, the author presents to the audience the protagonist who is a young girl called Scout Finch. Scout and her family are living in an imaginative own in Alabama called Maycomb. She lives with her brother Jem and their father Atticus in the town of Maycomb where racism towards Negros is rampant. Calpurnia is Scout’s house help and she does not like her very much she claims she loved ordering her around often and sending her out of the kitchen. Aunt Alexandra is Scout’s aunt and she is described as very strict and always knowing what is right for the family. Dill on the other hand is one who cries a lot over everything sensitive for instance when Tom is treated differently. Tom Robinson is the main subject in the story since he is accused falsely by Mayella that he raped her and so the issues of race emerges very clearly. Jem also called Jeremy is presented as Scout’s uncle who has strange thought that even the narrator considers him as having confusing thoughts. Boo Radley is one of Mr. Radley’s sons whom as described by Jem looks disabled but the town has translated his disability to mean that he is a monster like individual responsible for all the evils in the town. The author has also presented Bob Ewell who is a parent to a family that is considered as a disgrace to the family. Additionally, John Hale Finch is Scout’s uncle and he is described as funny a joker and one who likes playing around with children even though he is always not fair. Then the author also presets Reverend Sykes as the spiritual leader of the African American population within the town.
As such, to show that there are some Whites who were good to the Negros, the author presents Atticus as Whitman who defends the Negros. The existence of prejudice is seen to cause suffering for people in the story. As such, social prejudice is exposed when Boo Radley is excluded from Maycomb society, gender prejudice is seen when Mr. Atticus disregards the ability of a single gender (Miss Maudie )in serving on the jury, and racial prejudice is unveiled through Tom Robinson’s case. In the process of discussing these forms of prejudice, the research will prove that Lee explores the devastating consequences of social, gender, and racial prejudice during the Great Depression era in small-town Alabama.
Social prejudice is exposed through the exclusion of Boo Radley from Maycomb society and the poor treatment of Atticus Finch for defending an African-American. The novel exposes social prejudice when Jem describes Boo and says, “Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall. He dined on raw [animals] that’s why his hands were bloodstained. He had a long jagged scar on his face, rotten yellow teeth, popped eyes and drooled all the time” (Lee 11). Social prejudice is seen to exists when Lee shows that the entire town dislikes Boo due to his appearance leading to his exclusion from the others. When a person is prejudged due to how they look, then this is qualified to be prejudice (Maddox n.p). The people of Maycomb have concluded that all crimes are also attributed to him. Such conclusions are made of this character just because of the way he looks, such as him being an evil person is a classification of prejudice. Prejudice in most is also confirmed to arise where a person concludes that a person is capable of committing a certain act just because they are of a given kind. In other words, it is another form of stereotyping individuals. Consequently, due to such misinformation, Boo becomes an outcast without being found guilty. Furthermore, Boo’s father is also displayed as one who discriminates against his son because he locks him up for the most of his life. Additionally, because he is always locked in and raised up by very cruel parents, the citizens of Maycomb are more suspicious of him. The appearance of Boo makes the townsmen have preconceptions of him without proof that he causes every evil that happens in the town. Hence it is a confirmation of prejudice within society. In a nutshell, the author, through the misconceived conclusion by the townsmen over Boo, confirms the existence of social prejudice.
Secondly, while still examining the subject of social prejudice, the townsmen react towards Atticus Finch when he decides to defend Tom who is an African American. He is seen to state that “I’m afraid our activities would be received with considerable disapprobation by the more learned authorities” (Lee 30). This statement shows that even within Atticus himself, he is aware that the community he lives in disregarded him because he decides to behave differently from the other White’s. Furthermore, the story shows that he is also condemned by the community. This is evidence of social prejudice. Bloom also claims that prejudice can also be an act of discrimination against a person because they are different (39). The social prejudice, in this case, takes a very radical turn to the extent that this character risks his life all because he chooses to act differently. In this case, Atticus becomes the victim. He is disliked, he is hated, and he also suffers lack of love from his people due to his different opinion towards African Americans.
In brief, the author shows the suffering that these characters go through due to the prejudice that they face. For instance, the first character Boo, is excluded and always kept away from society by his father who locks him up. It is obvious that Boo suffers from lack of socialization and in addition to his cruel father, he grows up to be an antisocial individual who is lonely. Atticus on the other hand has to confront a mob that is ready to kill Tom and he puts his life in danger. He also suffers the lack of approval by his fellow white folks. Furthermore, his looks have made the town to brand him as evil. This social discrimination makes him a victim because when he is claimed to be the one causing evil, the children, as well as adults, dislike him. He thus suffers emotionally.
Gender prejudice is defined as discrimination based on gender. The novel exposes this through Aunt Alexandra’s treatment of Scout, and through the jury’s belief of Mayella’s claims simply because she is a white woman. Scout is reproached when she plays with boys and she states this in the novel that, “I could not possibly hope to be a lady if I wore breeches; when I said I could do nothing in a dress, she said I wasn’t supposed to be doing things that required pants” (Lee 81). From this statement, there is a clear indication that Aunt Alexandra discriminates Scout for being who she desires to be. She considers her to be lesser of a female gender if she wants to play with boys and be in the company of them. This form of prejudice is gender prejudice because it is discrimination that is based on gender when Scout’s aunt scold’s her for mixing with an opposite gender (Milton 23). In fact, this statement shows that Aunt Alexandra is having a formed opinion on what girls and women should behave or the duties they should undertake. Aunt Alexandra’s comments to Scout, illuminates how women also discriminate against gender when they consider that some things should be done by men and not by women. This is seen when Scout states that her aunt told her to avoid doing things that required “pants.” In this case “pants” represents men’s wear (Lee 81). In this case, gender prejudice has been seen to be propagated through the aunt’s behavior of separating among genders
Prejudice is also seen in the case of the incident that happens between Mayella and Tom Robinson. Gender prejudice is exposed when the jury believes Mayella’s claims simply because she is a white woman. In the novel the author narrates that, when giving his closing statement to the jury, Atticus is seen to clarify that the reason why Tom is in trouble is because the jury has believed Mayella based on the facts that she is a white woman (Lee 205). Therefore, Tom is victimized because he is a male Negro and this then qualifies to his victimization based on gender hence, the gender prejudice. Consequently, Mayella claims that Tom has raped her. In the end, by twisting the story to make Tom guilty, gender prejudice is seen and further revealed by the jury’s reaction. Mayella believes that she can clean her conscience through victimizing Tom because in this society it is uncommon for relations to happen between people of different races (Milton 23). In other words, this is to make the readers aware that, Mayella is hiding her guilt and hence uses the existing discrimination against the Negros to protect herself. Furthermore, she knows that Tom is a man, the jury is highly likely to believe her story more than Tom’s story. Through this incident in the novel, evidence of how women are always considered to be victims in cases of conflict between them and men is also illuminated. The consequences of gender discrimination are evidenced by psychological injuries to a child, like in Scout’s case. When it comes to the case of Tom Robinson, the physical harm is the impact of social prejudice he could have been jailed or even beaten by the people, causing him physical harm.
Racial prejudice is exposed through the court case of Tom Robinson and through the reverse racism that occurs at Calpurnia’s church when she brings Scout and Jem to service with her. Through Tom Robinson’s trial, prejudice is exposed in the book. One type of the prejudice uncovered evidently in the novel To Kill the Mockingbird is the hatred that is extended to the blacks and the fear of violence outbreak that can take place such as lynching. In other words, the Negros are disliked by the White population, and whenever they have been found to have committed a crime, with or without proof, they are always victims and can lose their lives. This, in fact, is what encourages Mayella to victimize Tom knowing very well that the jury will be biased against him due to his race. Consequently, according to the book, the lynch mob took the law into their hands and denied the victim a fair court trial. A fair trial where the jury listens to each party is the basic form of justice to all. The lynch mob decides to kill Tom Robinson before he is tried in court (McKinnon, 432). The killing of Tom Robinson is an indication of underground violence that shows up before the case starts and racism instigates it. Also, the execution shows how the mob has a feeling that they can take the law into their hands and their freedom and right to kill those who are inferior to themselves. The prejudice against lesser people here is targeting the Negros who are considered as a lesser race. The lynch mob feels powerful as a group, which is the opposite feeling that could happen to each of them if they acted individually.
Also, it is evident that the blacks are segregated in the courtrooms as well as public places and schools. While the whites get front seats in the courtrooms, the blacks are left to sit at the balconies, away from court scenes. This is evident in the book during Tom’s trial; Dill, Scout, and Jem are in the black balcony. “Reverend Sykes came puffing behind us and steered us gently through the black people in the balcony. Four Negroes rose and gave us their front row seats.” (Lee 170). Unlike the whites who respect no one, the blacks respect their vicar and the white kids accompanying them (McFarlin, 231). Even though the action presented in this context of the novel is a gesture of respect, it is also a gesture that reveals fear from the minority Blacks and shows pride form the majority, White. The African Americans who were seated in the front seats could have given their seats for the not willingly, but out of fear instead. On the other hand, if the Whites are not with pride and discriminative, they should then decline to take the offer. All the other evidence of prejudice in the society during the 1930s. Evidently, from the book, prejudice is exposed during Tom Robinson’s trial. Prejudice and discrimination in court always affect the individuals who are always looked down upon or marginalized in a given society. It can be correct to say Judge Taylor is not a racist. Taylor asks Atticus to take on the case of Tom Robinson’s case instead of leaving it to a junior who requires experience. It is evident that Tom Robinson is innocent, but the jury gives the verdict, guilty. Through this, the South American life is reflected during the time which the novel was set. Most people in the 1930s were racists, but obviously, there were those who were not racists. However, the non-racists were not strong enough to change the town and were scared to bring forth any change.
Racial prejudice is exposed through the reverse racism that occurs at Calpurnia’s church when she brings Scout and Jem to service with her. This is the first case of racism that happens in the novel, and it ensued in Calpurnia’s church. Calpurnia is home alone with the children of her employer, she is therefore thinking of what she should do with the children. She therefore thinks and finds that she does not want to send the children to church alone so she decides to go with them to the church she usually attends. When she arrives with the children at church, a member of the church who is a black gets irritated and wants her to leave with the children (Lee, 120). During this period, racial segregation is common. The blacks and whites attended different churches. Calpurnia stands by the children, and the church ends up siding with her. Reverend Sykes and other church members accept the Finch children (Macaluso, 281). Through this, it is exposed that racism was not one-sided. The blacks hated the whites the same way the whites did. The children accompanied by Calpurnia to church get a dozen of racism in the Negro church. After the church service, Scout wants to understand why Calpurnia “does nigger-talk to her folks, when she knows it’s not right.” (INSERT THEQUOTE) Calpurnia accepts she is black; however, she does not want to talk about it in details (Macaluso, 285). In this way, racism is exposed in church and also, an indication that the blacks do not accept themselves being black.
In conclusion, Lee has explored the devastating consequences of social, gender, and racial prejudice during the Great Depression era in small-town Alabama. Based on the analysis made on the novel, it is apparent that social, gender, and racial prejudice during the Great Depression era in small-town Alabama was not only pronounced but also had devastating consequences. According to the book To Kill the Mockingbird, the prejudice and racism have been exposed in the way other characters are reacting towards the selected characters which are discriminated for one reason or the other. Furthermore, the results are seen affecting the society as a whole both the White people like the character Atticus and blacks such as Tom Robinson. From the whites and blacks, the consequences are hatred, segregation, injustice, and self-denial as seen in Calpurnia, when she did not want to talk about her nature of being a black. Also, it is apparent from the book that racism was not only one-sided, but it was also owned by both the whites and the blacks, as portrayed in Calpurnia’s church. From the consequences exposed in the book, it is apparent that racism and prejudice should be avoided at all costs as it does not build the society but instead destroys the morals and attitudes of individuals from children to adults. The study from here can lead a scholar studying the factors that pushed each character to act in the way they acted.
“Bridge of Spies” by Steven Spielberg
In the 2015 Cold War Thriller Bridge of Spies, Steven Spielberg presents his audience with a film that makes us ponder on the important question – what is humanity? Through the protagonist James B Donovan (Tom Hanks), we are exposed to the modern conflict that arises between duty and humanity, as he goes through the trials and tribulations of being assigned the unwanted task of defending a Soviet spy, Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance). So, what is humanity? It’s in the name! Humanity is about being human and, not being inhuman. It’s about showing love and having compassion for everyone, no matter what their religion , beliefs, race, or status.
However, sometimes it can be hard to show compassion to everybody, and that’s where conflict arises. James B Donovan was assigned the unwanted task of defending the Soviet spy, Rudolf Abel, knowing full well the consequences of doing so. However, he showed compassion towards Abel, just as Atticus from To Kill a Mockingbird showed compassion towards Tom Robinson. Even though both Atticus and Donovan knew they would be hated for it, they also knew that it was the right thing to do – as it says in James: “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” Nobody wants to get persecuted, but sadly, people get persecuted all the time – and for what? Doing their duty!
To prove my point, Donovan and his own family were destroyed by the community, all because Donovan had to legally represent Abel. He was given rude and chilling stares from those who accompanied him on the train, and his house was even shot at! This got me thinking about how we, as christians, also get persecuted in modern society. I consider myself lucky to only get teased or judged by carrying out my duties as a christian, because there are people in other countries who risk literal persecution for this. Let’s talk about conscience. Remember reading To Kill a Mockingbird and totally falling in love with Atticus? No? Just me..? After I finished reading the Pulitzer Prized novel, I aspired to become like him – morally upright in every aspect of life.
Donovan follows a very similar direction as he acts as the film’s ‘moral compass’. Much similar to his To Kill a Mockingbird counterpart, Donovan faces a war between his conscience and his prejudiced peers. Our conscience can make it difficult to carry out our duties, as it is usually driven by what is humane – which in this case means no electric chair. What I also found really interesting was that Bridge of Spies has brought to my attention the conflict between duty and humanity, and how our conscience can either lessen or enlarge the impact it can have on our decisions.
The Character Analysis of Atticus Finch and Helmuth Hubener
Atticus Finch was a father of two in a sleepy southern town. Helmuth Hubener was a man who faced the evils of the Nazi regime. However, these two men are very similar in the choices they made and the difficulties they faced. Helmuth is a real individual who faced real life issues and Atticus is the protagonist in a novel centered around racial tensions and morality. However, Atticus Finch and Helmuth Hubener both share possess startlingly similar traits. They have a ton of similar characteristics, for example, valiance, good fiber, and a profound sense of right and wrong.
Helmuth Hubener was somebody who was known in his town for being a kind and helpful member of the community. As a child he was a cub scout, and growing up he enjoyed participating in and finding ways to benefit his hometown. Unfortunately, there was an abundance of issues going on around him. Hitler was picking up power and ingraining dread and despair into the general population of Germany. Helmuth felt as if the Nazi ideals were inherently evil. When he was a young schoolboy, he decided against joining the Nazi regime. In fact, he decided to rebel against it. He did many things to rebel against the Nazis such as make pamphlets. This is the occurrence that changed his life until the end of time. He was captured not long after and his discipline was swift. Helmuth Hubener served as an example that even if you’re in an environment in which morality is stifled, it is still of importance to stand up for what you believe is right. In spite of the fact that his life wasn’t long and he didn’t get the opportunity to encounter everything that a man should, he lives in our souls and our serves as an example that we should all stand up for what is right.
Similarly, Atticus Finch is the father of two children in a small southern town known as Maycomb. He wants them to grow up to be leaders and not conform to social peer pressures such as racism. When offered the chance to defend somebody of color – an act that would be considered almost treasonous by his fellow whites – he takes the dive in order to set an example for his kids on what is right and what is wrong. In the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”, Atticus is tasked with defending Tom Robinson who is accused of raping a white woman Mrs. Ewell. The town is very angry that a white man would defend a black and even members of his family begin to turn against him. Throughout the entire ordeal however, Atticus makes sure to keep his head high and teach his son Jem, and his daughter Scout that regardless of what your environment is pressuring you to do, you must stand on your own two feet, just as Helmuth Hubener taught his town the same lesson.
Both Atticus and Helmuth were facing adversity from their own environment, both comprehended what he was getting himself into from the earliest starting point. Regardless of potential consequences and the dangers they faced, they made the decision to take a stand. Thanks to these brave men, many people may take an example on how to show your peers good morality.
Parent Contrast in “To Kill a Mockingbird”
Ordinarily, the role that parents play in writing are static characters out of sight. Eragon was an orphan and in Percy Jackson, his folks are dead. In To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, guardians have a more proactive part in the lives of their youngsters, each engraving their positive and negatives practices upon their kids.
Bob Ewell, to begin, was not the best role model and parent. The Ewell’s are viewed as the town bullies and villains. They don’t go to school, they have terrible cleanliness, and are known to cause inconvenience. This can be traced back to to Bob Ewell’s injurious identity and bigoted attitude. His girl Mayella has both been sexually and physically mishandled by him. Overall, his child raising style is to disregard his youngsters unless he needs to manhandle them. It is very unfortunate.
On the opposite end of the range of parenting techniques, there is Atticus Finch, who had an extremely novel child rearing style, considering this was the Depression Era Alabama. He regularly treated his children, Scout and Jem, just like grown-ups, welcoming them to have a problem solving attitude and encouraging them to treat everyone equally. He also encouraged them to be people who asked questions. The effect this has on his youngsters is that they end up autonomous scholars. Scout frequently asks questions and has interactions with adults beyond her age.
The parent in To Kill A Mockingbird that most nearly takes after a modern day parent we’d see today is Walter Cunningham. Cunningham is a dedicated, but somewhat poor farmer. He’s showed his youngsters about diligent work and appears to be adoring, however there is an episode where he drives a crowd to lynch Tom Robinson at the jailhouse. He’s in the end persuaded by Scout to not lynch Robinson, since Cunningham has a duty to his kids. He’s an ideal case of a generally decent parent that has his blemishes. When you take a moment to consider, he is the most like a genuine parent.
To Kill A Mockingbird completes an awesome activity of outlining the assorted variety among parents/guardians and different ways to raise your children. We have the father that instructs his youngsters, the defective father, and the father that we wish wasn’t a father. Mockingbird summons reflections about the impacts we have in our life, and whether they would be abusive drunks like Ewell, or help raise us to be intelligent just like Atticus.
The Lack of Virtue as Portrayed in Harper Lee’s Book, to Kill a Mockingbird
Loss of Innocence
In a coming of age story, a bildungsroman, a character must go through a loss of innocence which forces them to realize that the world is not the utopia they believe it to be. This previously naive character is changed, positively or negatively, when truth and reality finally sink in. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Dill is a character that encounters this loss of innocence. Dill’s loss of innocence, that transformed him from a childish and somewhat ignorant boy into one that was rebellious and a little pessimistic, began with his rough home life and was completed by the challenging court case he witnessed.
When Dill first arrived in Maycomb, before his loss of innocence began, he came across as a naive child with a wild imagination, that often got him into trouble. His interactions with Scout and Jem show a side of him that is full of childish curiosity and a strong sense of adventure. It doesn’t take long for Scout to recognize this trait in him and comment on it by calling him “a pocket Merlin, whose head teemed with eccentric plans, strange longings, and quaint fancies” (Lee 10). Dill loved the idea of an adventure or mystery, and once he got wind of one, he wouldn’t let it go until he knew everything about it. The unknown intrigued him and made him desperate to know more. Scout explained this well when she noted that “the more we told Dill about the Radleys, the more he wanted to know, the longer he would stand hugging the light-pole on the corner, the more he would wonder” (Lee 15). One little spark could set fire to Dill’s imagination and curiosity. This was one of Dill’s character flaws and often got him in trouble because, as we all know, “curiosity killed the cat”.
As the book progresses, a change begins in Dill that starts with his acknowledgement of his rough home life and is finalized by the unfair trial of Tom Robinson. When Dill runs away from home he goes directly to the Finches with a story of his horrible home life. While his story is a little far-fetched and very exaggerated, one part seems true; he says that his parents did not like him and didn’t pay much attention to him. Because of this, Dill begins to see that the world is not perfect and is, most of the time, very broken. This is when Dill starts to lose his innocence; he begins to wonder why things are falling apart for him. During the trial, he has another experience with an imperfect world and this one sets him over the edge. In the middle of the trial Dill has to leave because he cannot bear the stress anymore. He watches as Mr. Gilmer mocks Tom and treats him like he is worthless. Dill is appalled with “that old Mr. Gilmer doin’ him thataway, talking so hateful to him” because he can not understand why anyone would treat a person that way (Lee 265). Dill is forced to see that hate exists and blinds people from seeing the truth; this is when he realizes that racism is real, though he may not know it by that term yet. When Tom Robinson loses the case, that is the end. All hope for the world has vanished, as far as Dill is concerned. He has seen that life is not fair and he does not like it one bit. The world is no longer a beautiful fantasy for Dill; he now sees it for what it is: a flawed and, often, hateful place.
After Dill loses his innocence and realizes that he was wrong about the world, he acts rebellious and pessimistic. Dill has seen that the world is not a kind and loving place and that hate really does exist in everyday life. He no longer believes that there is nothing wrong with the world because he has seen the reality. Dill’s view of the world has become negative, and at times dark. At one point in the book he makes a comment about Miss Rachel and Aunt Alexandra tells him, “Don’t talk like that, Dill. It’s not becoming to a child. It’s cynical” (Lee 287). Aunt Alexandra, the queen of critical and hateful thinking, saying his words were “cynical” shows us that Dill has changed his view of life from “everything is great” to “everything is wrong.” Though Dill keeps his imagination and love of stories through his loss of innocence, there is an evident change in the way he tells them. His stories are no longer just cute fantasies; they have become oddly morose. After Dill runs away, he explains his decision by telling them what his home life was like. His story was that his new father hated him and would lock him up in the basement to die, but he would sneak food from a passing farmer. This hardly seems believable and it is easy to discern that this is another one of Dill’s famous tall tales, but this is a lot different than his story about his dad who worked with trains and had a beard. When his view of the world changed, so did his stories. Dill had also become angry at people for not trying to fix the broken world; after the court case he comments about the people in the town saying that “everyone of ‘em oughta be riding broomsticks” and this shows that he sees them as “witches” who are full of evil. He is angry and bitter that the people did nothing to help Tom during the court case.
In conclusion, Dill’s loss of innocence sparked a transformation in him that was drastic. He lost his ability to see the world as a happy place and began to see the world as flawed and extremely broken. His once childish and playful demeanor changed to rebellion and anger towards people. His home life began this journey and the racist town ended it. However, the end was not positive for him; it was very negative. The racism of the town morphed him into someone who could rarely find the good in anything.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
Throughout the novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, the main characters Atticus, Jem, and Jean Louise “Scout” Finch show there was always good and evil in people. The characters displayed that the good in people always overlapped the bad. Evil comes in all different forms: physical, mental, and emotional. The two impressionable children, Jem and Scout, had not experienced such types of evil. They believed that all people were good and were not ready for the evil that came before them. From beginning to end, the author exhibited that good and evil was found in everything especially in our everyday lives.
Atticus always taught his children that people had good and evil moments with the good usually winning. He modeled this trait by defending Tom Robinson in a controversial case involving rape and racism. He took Tom Robinson‘s case to set a good example for Jem and Scout. Atticus taught them to respect others no matter the skin color. It was this mindset that would change the children’s initial view of two controversial characters Mrs. Dubose and Boo Radley.
Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose was a sick elderly lady who exhibited both good and evil to the young characters. When Jem and Scout walked by her house she yelled at them, criticized them, and talked badly about their father Atticus who was defending the Tom Robinson case. She did not approve of their father defending him because of her racist views. Jem and Scout felt she was an evil person because of her harsh and racist comments about their father of whom they adored. Her cruel words caused Jem to become furious, so he smashed her camellia bushes. Mrs. Dubose punishes Jem by making him read aloud to her daily for one month. At first, Mrs. Dubose would fuss at him for misreading or skipping words. After a while, she would stop. Jem and Scout described her as having a “fit.” (Lee 142 & 143) During her fits she would stop talking and stare at the ceiling almost like she was paralyzed.
A month after Jem completed his punishment, he found out that she had passed away. Atticus said, “She said she was going to leave this world beholden to nothing and nobody.” (Lee 148) He then told Jem that Mrs. Dubose was addicted to morphine for many years and had promised herself she would not be addicted when she died. Her fits were actually withdrawals from the lack of the drugs in her body. Jem realized he helped her by reading to her. Even though taking the medicine would have caused her less pain she courageously decided to break the addiction herself. After her death, Mrs. Dubose left Jem a candy box containing a single white camellia flower to show Jem she had forgiven him for destroying her flowers. Her act of forgiveness shocked the children. In fact, Jem threw the box in the fire and described it as curse. Scout later observed Jem admiring the white camellia as if he had made peace with Mrs. Dubose who had obviously made peace with him.
Arthur “Boo” Radley was a misunderstood character who was brave and had the qualities of both good and evil. While they had never seen Arthur, Jem and Scout called him “Boo” because they thought he was a monster. In their minds he was not real so, they made up scary stories about him based on the rumors they had heard about him, mostly from the town gossip, Stephanie Crawford. According to the rumors, young Boo and his friends were full of gang type mischief. They recklessly drove a car backwards in town, locked a town member in an outhouse, and resisted arrest. As a result, Boo was arrested for disorderly conduct, and the charges would have put him in a “state industrial school.” (Lee 12 & 13) However, his father, Mr. Radley, appeared before the judge believing such a sentence was a disgrace for his “high strung” boy. (Lee 14) Mr. Radley gave his solemn word that “Arthur would give no further trouble.” (Lee 13) Therefore, Boo’s home became his prison for nearly fifteen years as Mr. Radley refused to let him ever come out of the house. Boo’s anger and resentment built up to a point that caused him to stab his father’s leg with a pair of scissors. This evil act landed Boo in the courthouse basement. His solitary, gentle demeanor was overlooked because of this outburst of violence. Horrifying rumors were always swirling about him even after his release from the courthouse basement. All of these monstrous rumors convinced Jem and Scout that Boo Radley was evil until they realized that the information was misleading and incorrect. The children began to see and experience that Boo was not an evil, horrible person, but instead he actually had a good heart.
Boo showed his good heart in subtle ways. The children would find random gifts placed in the hole of a tree. They looked forward to finding these little surprises until his brother, Nathan Radley, filled in the hole with cement. Another example of his softer side was heard when Scout crawled into an old tire and was rolled down the street. The tire rolled right into the Radley’s front porch. She heard “someone inside of the house laughing.” (Lee 54) It was Boo. He was watching them out the window, and she never told Jem about hearing him laugh. Scout starts to realize that he is not a bad person after all. The strongest act of kindness toward Jem and Scout was shown when Boo saved their lives when walking home from a Halloween pageant.
Bob Ewell hated their father Atticus because he defended Tom Robinson who was accused of raping his daughter. As they walked along the path from the pageant, Jem and Scout heard someone walking behind them. The footsteps came closer and closer, setting up a defensive fear in the children’s minds. Bob attacked them from behind, and in the scuffle between Jem and the attacker, Scout heard a loud snap before she was attacked. The snap was where Bob had broken Jem’s arm, knocking him unconscious. It was in the midst of her struggle that Scout saw someone different from their attacker who pulled him off of her. In the dead silence, Scout then saw a man carrying Jem in his arms to their house. It was this brave man who saved them. It was a “countryman she did not know.” (Lee 356) All she could see was a kind, strong man carrying her limp brother home, but she did not know who he was. In her mind he was their savior. It was not until the end of their frightful night that Boo was recognized by the innocent Scout as being their hero.
Not everyone is what they seem. Some people are thought to be evil because of rumors, skin color, sickness, beliefs, and past events. Mrs. Dubose and Boo Radley are culprits and victims of such evil. However, both displayed their good qualities through the innocence of Jem and Scout by showing forgiveness and protection. At the end of the day, the children realize good can come from those who are perceived as evil.
The Stereotypes of to Kill a Mockingbird
The presence and effects of stereotypes in To Kill a Mockingbird are very apparent throughout the book. Whether it be characters setting and breaking them, imposing them on others, or using them to justify their actions, the way they are shown varies throughout the book. Of course their influence varies as well, as does the situation. Burris Ewell is a truant and lashes out at his teacher, but Walter Cunningham acts honorable. Aunt Alexandra, and Jem at some points, try to get Scout to act more ladylike. Bob Ewell accuses Tom Robinson of raping and beating his daughter, and he is believed because of the hate against African Americans at that time period. Even though these scenarios are all very different, they all share the same base root of stereotypes being very easy to see whether they impact the story or not.
Multiple times in the story, stereotypes are broken. In the earlier example, Burris and Walter are both very poor, however only Burris acts in a way that someone might assume he would after learning of his living condition. On the contrary, Walter holds himself proudly and doesn’t lash out because of how he lives. Another unrelated example of stereotypes being broken is the fact that even though Tom Robinson is convicted of the crime he was accused, he didn’t actually commit it. This one is slightly more loose, but fits with the idea nonetheless. While stereotypes are broken a decent amount, this doesn’t have too much of an impact, but is simply something interesting.
Multiple times in the book, stereotypical actions or lifestyles are imposed on people. One of the most obvious is Aunt Alexandra’s constant push for Scout to act more like a lady. Of course Jem does this as well, but the circumstance and reasoning isn’t the same. While it is debatable on whether or not this could be considered imposing a “stereotype”, Atticus constantly tries to instill his lessons and morals into his children whenever he gets the chance. Another debatable example is how Miss Caroline gets frustrated with Scout because she didn’t fall in line with how she expected the students to be. While these are important, another strong instance of stereotypes causing an impact in the story is how people use them to justify themselves.
The largest example of characters using their view of a stereotype to justify themselves is represented by a majority of Maycomb, but more specifically Bob Ewell. Bob does plenty of things that most would consider inhumane because of what he thinks of Tom, however it could be summed in general as the entirety of the trial. While it isn’t confirmed, it is heavily implied in the trial that Bob beat his daughter and blamed it on Tom. There’s also the fact that Bob tried to send a lynch mob on Atticus for representing Tom in the trial. On the other end of the spectrum, a completely different form of this type of stereotype usage is how Scout and Jem make fun of Boo Radley. Because of his shut in nature, they assume he is this scary monster and make all sorts of remarks about him. They, along with Dill, also pester him, and eventually Atticus has to step in and tell them to quit.
Overall, the use of stereotypes in this story not only has variety, but is used properly. While some of the uses have more direct story impact than others, they are all noticeable by the reader regardless. It’s a form of subtle world-building that immerses the reader that much more into the world of the book. The contrast between the Ewells and the Cunninghams paints the class system whilst also showing that not all the impoverished families are the same. The way people impose their views on others of how they should act adds development to certain parts of the story, sometimes even to the character doing the imposing. The characters using stereotypes to justify actions usually develop the plot as a whole without seeming like it. The book uses these tools it created very well, having multiple purposes and implications throughout the book.
To Kill a Mockingbird: Maturity of Scout
It is human nature to grow, and along with growth there is maturity. Harper Lee shows us this in the novel To Kill A Mockingbird, as scout, the main character, matures though the book. Scout slowly learns to control her unstable temper and avoid fistfights. She is young and innocent but as she grows up she understands more about her society and the culture during early 1900s America. She changes from a helpless child to a more experienced and grown up lady.
In early chapters of the book, Scout continues to pick fights at the slightest hint of insult. An example of this is when Scout beats up Walter Cunningham for “not having his lunch” which is a not a good reason to beat someone up for. But as the book continues, she doesn’t sweat the small stuff and stays out of fights. When Cecil Jacobs insults Atticus, instead of fighting, Scout walks away and ignores the remark. Scout Learned from past events and matured from experiences to know that it’s not always worth it.
As most children would, young Scout was learning and experiencing things throughout her growth. As she got older, she was able to understand things much better as well as being able to apply lessons and experiences in her everyday life. She began to act more grown up in events like Aunt Alexandria’s dinner party. Scout put aside how much she hated wearing dresses and how she disliked her Aunt but rather, joined in on their talks. Even though she didn’t want to “act more like a lady”, she went along with it to please her Aunt to create a bond and more of a relationship between one another. When the news of Tom’s death came by, her thinking showed maturity and strength as she thought “if Aunty could be a lady at a time like this, so could I.”. These events show how Scout was starting to become more mature and act older. She understood the circumstances and acted accordingly.
Another event that shows Scout’s change of attitude and thinking was the way she treated Boo Radley. At the beginning of the book Dill, Jem, and Scout enjoyed playing the “Boo Radley” game. It was a game of harassing Boo by trying to catch a glimpse of him or show their courage and bravery by touching his house. As the months passed, Scout’s fears and childish behavior involving boo went away. She says how “the Radley Place had ceased to terrify me” and shows more maturity and change of attitude. She realizes that Boo Radley is a human being, just like herself. By the end of the book, Scout begins to call him by his real name Arthur Radley. Saving the children’s lives, Scout finally has a chance to really see him. Instead of acting like her old self, she acts mature and has a respectful attitude. Scout even ends up walking him home, treating him like he was an old friend and she always did it. Ignoring her childhood innocence and games she treats Arthur like an adult and does it with respect.
Self Respect and Injustice in Film “To Kill a Mockingbird”
Self respect is the feeling that one is behaving with honour and dignity. In the film To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch expresses a strong moral character which influences the way he acts upon his personal values. In contrast, Mayella Ewell covers up the injustice done to her due to her lack of self respect. Tom Robinson suffers a great injustice as a result of the prejudice of white people in the community. Despite this, he remains a true and honest man throughout his wrongful conviction. The role self respect plays is crucial to how these characters fendure/witness unjustness. Harper Lee suggests that possessing self respect when presented with injustice allows an individual to not only endure it, but act upon their values.
Atticus Finch is a strong example of the role self respect plays when facing injustice. First of all, Mr. Finch accepted Tom Robinson’s case even though he knew he was going up against the racism and prejudice of the white civilians. He showed tremendous confidence and dedication in order to convey his beliefs. Second of all, before the trial, Tom was being kept in the city. Mr.Cunningham, Bob Ewell, and their companions plotted to break into the holding cell to hurt Tom. Atticus was informed about this and proceeded to the jail to protect Tom. If Atticus did not have pride in his actions or decisions, he would not have cared about the harm that Tom might endure. Last of all, Atticus exhibited self assurance when Mr.Ewell spits in his face. The attorney turns away with dignity and returns home which emphasizes his self control. During the court scene, Atticus reminds the jury that, “In [their] courts, all men are created equal”. This quote presents how Atticus Finch goes up against the white people to protect an honourable black man who has done nothing wrong and should be treated as an equal in the decision making. No matter how he is perceived by others, Atticus will stand up for what he believes is right. These points highlight upon Atticus’s ability to maintain his morale throughout the story.
In contrast to Atticus, Mayella Ewell demonstrates the significance of possessing self respect in all aspects of life. Mayella expressed how a lack of assurance when encountering injustice can lead to a lifetime of unhappiness. Firstly, Ms.Ewell would have sought assistance for the difficult task she was responsible for, managing the household. At 19, her future was set and she would continue to be harmed unless she reaches out for help. Mayella felt that she had no one to help her and lost all confidence in herself. Secondly, Mayella did nothing to stop the sexual and physical abuse that was provided to her from her father. Ms.Ewell would have informed the police if she had a strong self-esteem and was not afraid of her father. Lastly, Mayella forcefully tried to participate in sexual activities with a black man, which was unacceptable at the time the story took place. Ewell would not have engaged with Tom Robinson if she respected herself. During the court scene, Mayella repeatedly stated that, “[Someone] took advantage of [her]”. In reality, the individual that she was exposing was her father. If Ms.Ewell had respect for herself, she would not have lied to everyone about what Tom did. Several occasions in the film indicate that Mayella retains a lack of pride in herself.
Tom Robinson exhibits extensive self respect throughout the conviction despite the aggressive racism that the white citizens articulate. Before the trial, Mayella continuously invited Tom beyond the fence of the Ewell’s home to participate in chores. As a result of Mayella being presented with the burden of maintaining the household without anyone to help, Mr.Robinson felt sorry for her and proceeded to provide assistance at her house everyday without receiving pay. Another strong example is when Tom had enough confidence in himself to walk into the courthouse and go up against the word of two white people. He believed that if the jury heard his perspective, they would move past his skin colour. Tom knew he was a kind and honest man despite what everyone assumed about black people. If he did not contain self respect, he would have lashed out at everyone and it would have made it much easier for the jury to find him guilty. The county of Maycomb also expresses the significance that racism play in this man’s life. During the court scene, the prejudice that the community possesses proves to decide the fate of a black man’s life. The actions that Tom had sought out after the racist verdict of the jury were controlled which displays his surplus of self respect. The main conflict in “To Kill a Mockingbird” is summarized by this sarcastic quote towards Tom Robinson from a Mr.Gilmer, a white person, “You’re a mighty good fellow it seems–did all this for not one penny”. Mr.Gilmer and others only see a black man feeling sorry for a white woman, suggesting the idea that black people can not be put on the same plateau as white people. This quote magnifies the extent of Tom’s self confidence as he does not let anyone waver his beliefs and values. Throughout the film, Tom demonstrates self assurance that leads him to fight for his values and beliefs.
In the film “To Kill a Mockingbird”, the actions that are carried out by the characters correlate to their aptitude to unconsciously make decisions due to their level of self respect. Atticus is illustrated as a positive character who perseveres towards achieving his principles. On the other hand, Mayella chooses to endure all the harm and injustice brought to her without seeking assistance, which proves to negatively change her personality. Tom Robinson experiences multiple instances of preconceived opinions towards him due to his skin colour. This film signifies that self respect is needed to fight against injustice. Robert Kennedy reminds us that, “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope”. This quote highlights the ideas that Tom Robinson and Atticus Finch display throughout the film. When confronted with injustice, the amount of self respect one possesses influences the actions they pursue to overcome the circumstance.