To Kill a Mockingbird
Slavery in To Kill a Mockingbird Novel Explicatory Essay
To Kill a Mockingbird book was published in 1960 and is based on a true story and explains the events that took place in the writer’s hometown in the late 1930s. It is a classic book that captivates the reader with the unique flow of the story bringing out the author’s emotions. The book became an instant hit due to its perfect combination of humor and remorse in the narration and received multiple positive reviews.
The narrator of the story is a young girl named Scout Finch, who lives with her father, Atticus Finch, in Maycomb, Alabama. He is a lawyer by profession. She has only one brother called Jem. Throughout the story, Scout portrays her father as a hero and a role model in maintaining integrity in the legal profession (Johnson 6).
The Theme of Slavery in To Kill a Mockingbird
The book brings out specific themes, such as roles of gender, education, racism, courage, and destruction. The primary idea in the book is the issue of black slavery and the attempt to abolish it. Slavery is more depicted through racial prejudice. The main characters in the novel are said to live in the southern area of the United States of America (Roden 45).
The South Americans practiced racism as opposed to the inhabitants in the north. The southern territory supported the use of slaves to provide free labor in their large cotton plantations as opposed to the northern state who had declared the practice illegal.
However, the southerners were faced with a dilemma of maintaining their Christian morals on the one hand and retaining the slaves on the other (Tolstoy 43). The ‘negroes,’ as the Southerners referred them, were valuable during this period of the Great Depression.
To balance their Christianity beliefs and their material needs, they declared the Negroes as being in-humans who were inferior to society. This justified their role as slaves and the reason why they could not be treated equally according to Christianity (McCarty 23).
Was Tom Robinson a Slave?
The author introduces a character Tom Robinson who represents the slaves in the South (Lee and Bloom 12). Tom is accused of rape, and Atticus acts as his lawyer.
He worked as a slave in Mr. Link Deas’s farm. He had been accused of raping a white lady, Mayella, in the pretense of helping her. Racial discrimination was evident during the cross-examination when Tom told the court that he felt pity for the white lady who seemed lonely. The statement is said to shock the audience as it was not usual for a black Negro to feel any remorse towards a white person.
The narrator can bring out the hardships the slaves go through during the trial of Tom (Bloom 63). They are depicted as liars and criminals with no chance of being justifiably heard. Atticus defends Tom with all his might by reminding the jury that there was no difference between the black and white men in the court of law and that they should be fair in their verdict.
Tom is, however, found guilty despite his strong defense. Atticus does not display any shock at the outcome, and he states that he expected the jury not to rule in favor of Tom as he was a black Negro. Tom is finally shot dead by prison guards in his attempt to escape from prison.
The introduction of Tom by the author is a plot device to represent the plight of the slaves in the state. Tom is black and in a crippled state. He has been convicted before for engaging himself in a fight and being unable to pay up a fine. This is an indication that the slaves in To Kill a Mockingbird were poor. He had severely injured his arm on the farm while working on the cotton gin machine.
It should be noted that this machine was used primarily by slaves in cotton fields. Tom’s character depicts the hardships that the slaves underwent. The injured arm plays a vital role in acting as an emblem to portray negligence over the slaves by the whites.
The decision by the jury, despite the strong defense, is also an indication that the slaves had no chance against the whites. Lastly, Tom’s death portrays how the slaves were killed for no apparent reason. This is due to the fact that they were not considered humans at all by the whites.
However, the author brings out another side of the black people as opposed to the whites. They are generous and do not seem to discriminate. One incidence is the fact that Tom befriends the lonely white woman and even offers to help her on several occasions.
The other incidence is the fact that the black people in the courtroom stand up to pave the way for Atticus as a sign of respect for his effort to set Tom free. The whites, on the other hand, seem to hold a grudge towards Atticus for representing a black man in court and trying to uphold justice in the court.
The author brings out slavery in To Kill a Mockingbird in a brilliant manner though her excellent narration style. She tells the story as an innocent child observer in an adult based situation hence embedding the scene in the reader’s mind. Not only does the author portrays her father as a hero but also her hatred towards the practice of slavery. Her only wish is for justice to be served equally to both the blacks and the whites.
Bloom, Harold. Harper Lee’s To Kill a mockingbird. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2007. Print.
Johnson, Claudia. Understanding To Kill a mockingbird: a student casebook to issues, sources, and historic documents. United States: The Greenwood Press, 1994. Print.
Lee, Harper and Bloom, Harold. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2010. Print.
McCarty, Lisa. To kill a Mockingbird. USA: Saddleback Educational Publishing, 2006. Print.
Roden, Donald. Harper Lee’s To Kill a mockingbird. London: Barnes & Nobles, 1997. Print.
To Kill a Mockingbird Research Paper
The author, in the novel To Kill a Mocking Bird presents a deeper understanding in relation to events occurring in her novel. The author uses symbolism to link events which takes place in the novel. To Kill a Mocking Bird’, according to Lee and Bloom (29), can simply be translated to mean “to wipe out the virtue of a person”. According to the author, the ‘mocking bird’ designates an upright individual, but rather destroyed by suffering bestowed as a result of other individual evil deeds.
The Author further describes Mocking bird as a small bird recognized by its non-stop irritating singing sound, thus, the noise possess nuisance to people, though that is its nature. However, to its own self, it may be an expression of different emotions such as; excitement, anger and hunger.
To Kill a Mocking Bird is presented as novel crafted with symbolism. Symbolism has been enhanced using characters such as children, Tom Robinson, Boo Radley and Jems Finch. The writer explores how individual characters mentioned contribute to enhancing the style of symbolism in the novel. Besides, the writer explores other non-character elements such as the; the gun, mad dog and the house as major contributors of author’s work towards forming symbolism in the novel.
To enhance understanding of the novel, the author has widely embraced symbolism in the novel. The most important symbol used and which helps us to understand the rest of the novel is the Mockingbird itself. The author has constantly used the word to symbolize the virtue of innocence (Lee & Bloom, 46).
Although the title has little to assert what the actual novel illustrates but it has contributed significantly to the development of the plot. However, other several characters have strengthened the author’s ability of embracing symbolism in the novel.
Children have been depicted in the novel as innocent and not susceptible to exacting vices of the present-day world (McCarty, IV). In this case, the novel contrasts mocking bird in the sense that, the children world is anchored on innocence, until they begin to mature into adulthood (Lee and Bloom (63),
Tom Robinson, a notable character in the novel, is a black man accused of raping and violently attacking Mayella Ewell (Lee and Bloom, 15). The allegations leveled against him seem to be untrue because Mayella had desired and thus, went a step further of making sexual advances to Tom Robinson. Her father notices her and brutally punishes her.
However, Mayella suppresses her feelings publicly for fear of racial discrimination which existed in England (McCarty, VI). Besides, it is noted the Mayella’s father is a social drunkard thus, causing much pain to Mayella.
Further the white panel of judges. Though they do not possess credible evidence on the allegation tailored towards Tom Robinson, their verdict to imprison him is linked to racism. Consequently, Tom Robinson while escaping from the prison is shot to death. In this case, Tom Robinson has been exposed to racial prejudice which cost his life despite of his innocence (Lee and Bloom, 63). Tom Robinson and Mayella have been used in the novel to symbolize the social bias that society is made up of.
Racial profiling has been a common phenomenon in present world whereby individuals have been discriminated in terms of getting favors or opportunities. Besides, the white judges have been used to suggest the evil and favoritism in terms of asserting justice in the society. Consequently, the imprisonment of Tom Robinson illustrates the harsh punishments and sufferings which the innocent always go through in the society (Lee and Bloom, 76)
Boo Radley is the son of the late Mr. Radley and brother to Nathan Radley. Boo Radley is subjected to home imprisonment by his father for childhood mistakes. The harsh treatment is still perpetuated by his elder brother after the demise of his father (Milton & Lee, 7). The harsh treatment of Boo Radley compels the residents of Maycomb to discuss his predicament in hushed tones. Besides, children fear and run-away whenever they spot him.
His contact with the outside world is barred, as we see his brother Nathan sealing the knot-hole with cement, which served as his way into and out to meet the Finch’s children. He has been confined in the house for many years that the residents of Maycomb have started to forget about his existence.
Boo Radley symbolizes a portrait of a good child, who, despite of having being exposed to cruelty and hatred by his father and brother, continues to do good to others. Symbolism is further illustrated in his endless good deeds.
For instance, he mends and places on the fence Jem’s torn pant which was torn as he was running from Nathan’s shot. Also, despite the Flinch’s children belittling and seeing him as less human, he constantly gives them presents, and even goes to the extent of saving them from Bob Ewell’s stab on their way home from the Halloween party (Lee & Bloom, 98).
He also carries the wounded Jem home, who previously viewed him as a supernatural being, from being locked indoors always and not being able to mingle with the residents (Milton & Lee, 45). Boo Radley’s good behaviors are symbolism that makes up conscience of a good person in the society.
Besides, Lee on the other hand in the novel is portrayed as a figure of superstition, thus this depiction symbolizes bad things in the house in which he lives. The superstition is strengthened because when the children’s looks for him in the house, but what they actually see is the exterior of the house.
The exterior of the house in this sense becomes Boo himself!, Further, the house linked to Boo is isolated from the rest of the community. This is illustrated by Lee when she says, “ …. The shutters and entrances of Radley house… Radley house never possessed shades I once probed Atticus if it ever possessed any” (Lee, 45)
The novel symbolizes Jem Finch as an innocent boy growing to fight off the vices of the society. For example, many vices encountered by Jem such as; abuses from other children, and the unfair trial of tom Robinson has instilled in him strength and vision he to conquer life. With a scout, he tries to be strong and faces life’s challenges with optimism and hope. Also, the moral upbringing by his father has helps to shape him as responsible and an upright individual (Milton & Lee, 14). The child’s innocence in Jem
The unfair trial of Tom Robinson and his father’s good and wise parenting symbolizes Jem’s desire to become a lawyer. The good in Jem is further symbolized his action of stopping his sister scout, from crashing the insect, arguing it had done no wrong. In a nut shell, Jem understands living things and people we do often overlook and criticize contributes to creating a positive impact in our lives (Milton & Lee, 69).
The author has greatly embraced use of other non-character objects in the novel to sustain the style of symbolism in the novel. One of the objects widely used is the guns. Guns in the real world serve as a mean of protection and fighting an enemy. However, in the novel, they have been used to symbolize untrue strength. This is noticed when Atticus says that, “that gentleman holding a gun is is a coward man” (Milton & Lee, 78).
Also, a mad dog has been used in the novel to illustrate the madness created by madness. Lastly, the fire that burns Miss Maudie’s house and dissolves snowman has been used to symbolize a fiery bearing that the city takes in terms of mingling of race because the snowman is done using snow, thus white people and the dirt, represents black people
To Kill a Mockingbird, has enhanced symbolism to assert the author’s message. The author has extensively used characters such as the children, Tom Robinson, Boo Radley, Jems Finch and non-characters such as guns among others to aid the readers understand symbolism in the novel.
Tom Robinson and the snowman have been used by the author to illustrate the racial profiling that exists in our society. In the case of Tom, her association with Mayella, a white girl against the wishes of her father shows how deeply the society is bedeviled with this vice (Lee, 63).
Besides, the tittle of the novel illustrates the symbol of innocence, thus, the mockingbird only enjoys happy moments characterized by singing beautiful songs.
Killing the mocking bird is regarded as a sin. This is illustrated by Atticus when he tells his children,” as you grow, you’ ill witness white men” (Lee, 45). Further, Atticus warns his children against using the gun to shoot the mocking bird; this illustrates his caring nature for mocking bird.
Lee, Harper and Bloom, Harold. To Kill a Mockingbird, Infobase Publishing, New York, 2010
Milton, Joyce and Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird, Barron’s Educational Series, New York, 1984
McCarty, Lisa. To Kill a Mockingbird, Saddleback Educational Publ, California, 2006
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Collins,New York, 1993
To Kill a Mockingbird Essay (Critical Writing)
Considering the movie To Kill a Mockingbird, one can claim that this piece, though rather old and deprived of special effects so popular in the modern cinematography is still a perfect specimen of how a good movie must be shot. It is quite peculiar that, despite the black-and-white cast of colors, the movie benefits due to the camera movement. For instance, in the piece where Scout rides the tire, the camera moving sides, making the picture toss and turn, offers the audience a ride together with Scout.
Speaking of the movements which convey the essence of the film without any speech “intrusion”, it would be a good idea to drive the example of Boo Radley standing in the darker corner of the room and watching Jem lie unconscious. As Scout takes him by the hand, the way he moves describes him better than any words can – it is really weird to see how a grown-up man, rather big, walks so awkward and uncertain.
As the plot of the movie unwinds, one can trace the pattern of the shots length. Most of them rather lengthy, they allow the audience to understand each of the movie characters better, making each of them individual.
Thought the use of the high- and low-angle shots in the movie is minimized, most of the shots being taken at the eye level, the movie scenes look even more impressive with the rare low shots taken. Thus, the low shot of Jem hiding in his tree house and Atticus watching him from beneath looks most hilarious.
Considering the composition, it is important to mark that the most crucial scenes in the movie are structured according to the rule of thirds. A perfect example of such scene is the shot of Dill and Jem approaching the house where Boo Radley lived: in the given scene, the porch of the house serves as a foreground, with the boys in the center of the composition, their emotions clearly seen even through the dark of the night, and the bushes where Scout was left behind as the background of the shot.
It is quite peculiar that the camera movement in each scene is used to enhance the effect of the acting. Sometimes swift and almost chaotic, sometimes slow and making time stop, the camera emphasizes the strain within the plot and makes the emotions of the characters and the situations in the movie as natural as they can be. For example, the way the camera swings in the scene where Atticus, Scout, Jem and Walter Cunningham are having dinner makes the dialogue livelier and more natural.
In terms of cinematography alone, one can notice that the movie skips certain pieces of the novel. On the one hand, this could be an attempt to make the film more vivid; yet on the other hand it seems that the intention of the screenwriter was to create the right impression of the lead characters. This can explain why the scene of Jem and Scout destroying Mrs. Dubose camellia garden, in which the two children act like real savages.
Unique and inspiring, To Kill a Mockingbird will always remain a perfect example of what a really good movie is. In spite of the fact that it was shot in the distant 1946, it still has a lot to be astound of, including the shooting techniques as well. It was both the perfect acting and the amazing technique which led the film to the top of cinematographic art.
To Kill a Mockingbird Essay
The phrase ‘to kill a mocking bird’ stands out as a metaphor in the book To kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Atticus laments that “Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” (Lee, 1988, p. 87). Mocking birds symbolizes innocent people like Boo and Radley in the novel. Despite the innocence of the mocking birds, which only sings to people, some evils such as Boo’s abusive father harm them. The likening of the innocence to songbirds comes out clearly, when Boo appears not to contemplate to harm Jem.
During the fire, he covers scout with blanket and consequently secures kids from Bob. Such acts depicts Boo’s cleanness of heart which proves not to hypocritical as he puts it into action just like mockingbirds sing out their hearts. The idea of using the metaphor is to inculcate the morals in people to see them find out a need to safeguard the venerable species: analogous to songbirds, which are ever prone to damage by children and people at large.
The mother adds, “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” (Lee, 1988, p.197). The author achieves an imperative moral sense as Atticus makes a decision to consider Tom’s case. On the other hand, Jem aims to protect Roly-poly.
Lee uses a number of symbols and motifs to deliver the intended message in the novel. A symbol like mockingbird permits the author to portray abstract ideas vividly. Ideally, mocking bird, as a symbol takes the place of innocence.
Thus damaging mocking birds, in contemporary language would be tantamount to destroying innocence. Several characters such as Boo, Jem, Radley, and Tom Robinson among others stand out as mockingbirds, which suffer destruction when they encounter the evil. Mr. Underwood relates Tom Robinson’s shooting to a “…senseless slaughter of song birds” (Lee, 1988, p.237).
Further, in the novel, scout attributes attempts to hurt Boo Radley to “‘shooting’ a mockingbird” (Lee, 1988, p.250). Fragile innocence of children in particular seems endangered by the world of racists who treat it harshly. On the other hand, Lee’s choice of motif allows informing and development of the novels major themes. The motifs employed included: mad dog incident, or the items Boo Radley leaves for the children in the tree. The deployment of motifs serves to provide gothic details in the text.
This way, Lee is capable to bring up the spirit of drama in the novel. The incorporation of elements such as the fire, which damaged Miss Maudie’s house, the mad dog shot by Atticus, superstitions of the children concerning Boo Radley among others help to create tension in the narration of the events surrounding the novel.
Scout learns life lessons on the significance of the moral subscription not to hurt the innocent. The innocent are always vulnerable and have no mechanism to self protect from abuse. Atticus bears a gothic name ‘finch’, which is a typical small harmless bird. By revolving issues around him, Lee is able to explore and create avenues for making recommendations on how right society should live.
Atticus finch stands out as morally upright character whose ideologies amounts to heroism making all other characters subscribe to his way of doing things. Upon reading To Kill a Mockingbird, the reader hardly leaves without a different sense of life. Lessons on coexistence of evil and good in the society and the importance of moral education as bridge to emergence of socially upright society are worth noting.
Through an entertaining tone, literature is able to educate the society in various indulgencies, which by scaly scrutiny may seem right. ‘To kill a mockingbird’ also serves to solve even the modern world’s prevailing challenges such social inequalities and inhumane acts toward innocent citizens for instance corruption which can be compared to an act of killing a mockingbird.
Lee, H. (1988).To Kill a Mockingbird. New York, NY: Popular Library.
Moral Principles in Harper Lee’s Novel To Kill a Mockingbird Essay
Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird is set in a fictional Southern town Maycomb during the Great Depression. The narrator Scout Finch describes Maycomb as “tired” and “old” (Lee, 1998, p 6). The main character says, “A day was twenty-four hours long but seemed longer” (p 6). In this way the author wants to emphasize an idea that this is a place where time virtually came to a standstill. Judging from the first eleven chapters, a reader can deduce that Maycomb is a very small community in which people know one another very well.
Furthermore, Harper Lee shows that this is a town where racial prejudices and stereotypes are still prevalent (Lee & Bloom, 2010, p 71). Finally, it should be pointed out that these people live during the time of economic crisis which affects every layer of the population. To some extent, this only intensifies racial animosity in this place.
Harper Lee explores a great number of themes in the first chapters of the novel, for example, integrity of a person and his/her ability contradict the norms, adopted in the community. This question is particularly important when one speaks about Atticus Finch and his willingness to defend a black man Tom Robinson even despite the fact that other people ostracize him.
Other important themes include the gender roles, the generation gap and relations between parents and children, class differences and racial stereotypes. A person, who has not read the novel up to the end, can hardly predict how the themes are going to develop. Yet, one can assume that the core of this novel will be the conflict between Atticus Finch’s values and those ones of the community.
The main characters introduced in the first chapters of the novel are Atticus Finch and his children Scout and Jem. The author let us know that Atticus raises his children on his own; his wife died several years ago and he never remarried. To a great extent, Atticus is greatly assisted by a family’s housekeeper, Calpurnia, to whom both this family feels greatly attached. Another important character is Dill Harris, a friend of Scout and Jem.
Unlike his friend, Dill comes from a very poor family and he often lacks money even for food (Lee, 1998, p 9). From the very start, Harper Lee indicates that Atticus will be at the center of the novel. For example, his children, especially Scout, continuously ask him for his moral judgment, and he produces an impression of being a very honest person. Thus, the readers want to find out if he will be able to adhere to his principles in the future.
As it has been said before, the main conflict described by the writer is the differences between personal values and moral principles and the norms adopted in the community. Yet, there are other conflicts in the novel, for example, the confrontation between the forces of modernity and conservatism.
Additionally, we should mention the so-called clash of generations, in particular the willingness of parents to protect their children from any kind of threat, on the one hand, and children’s willingness to explore the world and become independent.
This story is told from the perspective of Scout Finch, a six-year old girl (Lee, 1998, p 9). However, she does not sound her age. If we look at her narrative from pure linguistic point of view, we can say her vocabulary is very rich, and her grammar is practically impeccable.
More importantly, Scout Finch is also able to capture complex moral issues and dilemmas, although she cannot solve them. Such attentiveness to the complexity of ethics is not typical of a six-year old child. This suggests that Harper Lee’s voice is more prominent, and that the author greatly relied on memoir technique while writing this book.
Lee H. (1988). To Kill a Mockingbird. NY: Grand Central Publishing.
Lee H. & Bloom H. 2010 To Kill a Mockingbird. Bloom’s Guides. Infobase Publishing.
To Kill a Mockingbird main themes Essay
The main themes of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird cover both adult and children’s concerns, including the dignity of human life, the importance of truth, the rights of people to be different, the need for a humane and holistic approach to education, and the corrosive destructiveness of racism. Lee uses several story lines and a whole town full of vivid characters to make her points, and, along the way, honor her lawyer father.
She clearly has seen, in her own life, the worst of racism, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, as well as the best of integrity and upright behavior in a variety of people. She wants readers to think about how they treat others, whether of different race, or mental ability, or style of learning, or any other difference that does no harm to the rest of us, exactly like the harmless mockingbird.
Harper Lee grew up in a town very like the setting of the novel. Her father was a local lawyer, a lean and lanky man very well represented by Gregory Peck in the 1962 movie. There were mysterious and shuttered homes in her neighborhood, and doubtless racial tensions. She was admired by her fellow townsfolk for her writing and her bravery in articulating the poisonous atmosphere of racism (Life Magazine, 1961).
In the final section of the novel, these points come to a dramatic culmination. The trial of Tom Robinson, which showcases the venal, mendacious, and violent tendencies of the Ewell family, especially Bob Ewell, is unsuccessful in vindicating Robinson. Nonetheless, Atticus is recognized by the African-American community as having done a masterful job in defending Robinson.
This is evidenced by the way Scout and Jem are prodded to rise in respect, along with all the African-Americans in attendance in the balcony (Lee, 1960, p. 350). This unshaken conviction that Atticus has done his best is also supported by the gifts in kind which the African-American community leaves at the Finch home (Lee, 1960, p. 352).
The summer passes with an uneasy sense of threat from Ewell (Lee, 1960, p. 360). There is plenty of time for Atticus to explain the criminal justice system, and why no one “like us” shows up on juries, as Jem wonders (Lee, 1960, p. 365). He also theorizes about Boo Radley’s motivations for staying shut up in his house (Lee, 1960, p. 376).
This is the calm before the storm, however, with the missionary circle’s almost surreally disconnected tea party that Scout is drawn into to teach her to be a young lady. It offers her an opportunity to listen to the sometimes-poisonous gossip (Lee, 1960, p. 379).
All this putative peace is shattered when Atticus announces Tom Robinson’s deeply suspicious death during an alleged escape attempt. Ewell’s hatred and desire for revenge are well-known. The pace of things picks up here and it is during Scout’s awkward homeward walk inside her ham costume that she is attacked by Bob Ewell, and rescued, as we learn later, by the reclusive Boo Radley.
In this event, Bob Ewell, the destroyer of Tom Robinson, a harmless cripple, is destroyed by Boo Radley, also a cripple. Radley has lived his life behind closed doors and shuttered windows because of his mysterious past behavior, but he has watched out for the Finch children, who are also harmless like the mockingbird.
Thus, there is a sort of justice carried out finally. The adults around Boo agree to ignore Boo’s role in the killing of Bob Ewell, and allow him to return to his secluded life undisturbed. Tom Robinson is avenged, although that does not help his wife or children. The Finch children are wiser, and perhaps sadder, but alive to tell the tale and change the world for the better. African-Americans are not any farther along, but there is some recognition of their worth as people (Shuman, 2002, p. 551).
Lee, H. (1960). To Kill A Mockingbird. New York: Harper Collins.
Life Magazine. (1961, May 21). Literary Laurels for a Novice. Life , 77.
Shuman, R. B. (2002). Great American Writers: Twentieth Century. Tarrytown, NY, USA: Marshall Cavendish.
The Problem of Racism and Injustice in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Research Paper
In spite of the fact the moral concepts are the basic principles according to which people regulate their lives and interpersonal relationships, these principles are often broken, and any person can experience problems in his or her interacting with the society.
Sometimes, people become opposite to the societies with their developed hierarchy and stereotypes because of their differences. The problem of the social inequality is one of the most controversial questions in the world, and it is closely associated with the issue of racism and prejudice.
The theme of the human’s opposition to the society is discussed in To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee. It was the most provocative novel of the 1960s which influenced the social discussions and revealed the problematic aspects of the democratic American society. To analyze the basic ideas of the novel, it is necessary to examine it with the help of formalism as an approach to concentrate not only on the topic but also on the author’s methods to present it.
In the novel, Harper Lee demonstrates her vision of the question of the social inequality with references to the problem of racism in the society based on prejudice and absence of actual principles of tolerance and justice, and this vision is given through the eyes of children with their morality and innocence as an important point to emphasize the issue’s controversy.
It is possible to state that Harper Lee uses the character of Scout as the story’s narrator not only to accentuate the lack of morality in the society but also to emphasize the links between her own experience and the problem discussed in the novel. Harper Lee was born in the family of an attorney in 1926.
Being a child, Lee observed the injustice of the social relations in the 1930s which were based on the racial discrimination and the lack of tolerance. Thus, these peculiarities of Lee’s perception of the situation and definite biographical details were depicted through Scout’s eyes in To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee did not write any other novel, but her first experience in writing with accentuating the most problematic social issues was so successful and remarkable that the novel became the winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 (Shields).
To present the discussion of the problems of racism, intolerance, and injustice in the American society of the 1930s with referring to the situation of the 1960s, Harper Lee chooses to depict a story about Atticus Finch, an attorney, who defends an Afro-American man accused of raping because he believes in this man’s innocence and rejects the law of prejudice developed in the society.
The events of the story are presented through the eyes of Finch’s daughter Scout. Following the details of the girl’s perception of the situation and the mature analysis of the definite facts, it is possible to conclude that the story is spoken by a young woman who rethought all its aspects. From this point, the problem of innocence is depicted in the novel with the help of rejecting Tim Robinson’s innocence and the innocence of the children’s consideration.
Thus, Harper Lee provides her “version of an age of innocence. Literally, she is using what we perceive as the innocence of childhood and a small town’s ‘nothing happening’ existence, which upon closer examination is merely the complex mutual dissimulation of innocence” (Blackford 280). Innocence is one of the main concepts of the novel which is discussed from different perspectives.
It is important to note that social tensions which depend on the progress of prejudice are typical for many societies and any settings during different periods. Presenting the situation in provincial Maycomb, Alabama, which developed in the 1930s, Harper Lee also reflected the social problems of the American society in the 1960s. It was still based on the strict principles of the hierarchy. In this case, racism is discussed as the problem which is not limited by any time fringes.
Atticus Finch presents his vision of the issue saying to the children, “you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but…whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, he is trash” (Lee 365). It is possible to accuse even an innocent man when social inequality and injustice are based on the lack of moral principles in the society and humanity in the people’s relations.
Tolerance and humanity are reflected in the characters of Atticus Finch and his children. Their considerations about the other people do not depend on any biases because these persons perceive the others as individuals, but not as different ones. The understanding of the problems of social inequality is presented in Scout’s considerations. Murphy states, “In her youthful innocence, she was asking all the right questions” (Murphy 64).
If Scout represents the possible innocent perception of the unhealthy situation in the society, Finch tries to fight with the system to overcome injustice. Wood pays attention to the fact that Atticus “seems to understand that lasting legal change will not succeed unless people’s hearts and minds also change, unless the law embodies the highest and best values of collective society, and unless the law is flexible enough to accommodate special circumstances” (Wood 82).
Is it possible to be opposite to the society with its stereotypes and prove the logic of the person’s position when nobody wants to support it? Defending Tom Robinson, Atticus Finch experiences the necessity to resist the opposition of the intolerant society in order to maintain his point of view.
Harper Lee draws the readers’ attention to the controversial point that it is rather difficult for one person to convince the whole society to believe in the innocence of a ‘black’ man when all these people depend in their considerations on the developed biases. The conflict of the novel is in the opposition of the man who has healthy ideas about the laws of the society according to which people should interact with each other and the public which is used to live depending on the ideas of racism and significance of the social status.
To accentuate the inability of the public to react to the reality and express the signs of tolerance, Lee states that “people generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for” (Lee 286).
That is why, the conflict of the person and society in the novel is resolved with the triumph of inhumanity and injustice which are dependent on the strengths of the social stereotypes and prejudice. The strong will of one person and his persuasions about the basic social principles are not enough to overcome the biases which were developed during the years.
At first sight, the readers can consider the title of the novel as inappropriate for the book, but it is rather symbolic and reflects the novel’s theme. ‘Mockingbirds’ are the symbolic depictions of the innocent people in the novel who can suffer from the racial or social discrimination against them. Is it necessary to kill a mockingbird? Are there any threats for people? “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy…they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.
That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” (Lee 148). Nevertheless, the society is often cruel, and innocent ‘mockingbirds’ are killed the first because they reflect the social imperfectness. That is why, the theme of racism and the social injustice is symbolically presented in the title of the novel as the accentuation of the lack of reasonability in any kind of discrimination.
In spite of the fact the story depicted in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird develops in the 1930s, the problems discussed in the novel can be considered as the main social challenges which do not depend on the period of time. The question of the social inequality and the problem of racism as its reflection are controversial issues, the discussion of which should be based on the ideas of tolerance and justice.
Harper Lee pays attention to the fact that it is a sad phenomenon when the question of innocence is changed with a question of race. Moreover, the society can be considered as sick when the principles of humanity are based on the definite social status. All these aspects are emphasized by Harper Lee’s conclusion when innocence, tolerance, and justice are just words.
Blackford, Holly. “Awakening Passing and Passing Out”. Mockingbird Passing: Closeted Traditions and Sexual Curiosities in Harper Lee’s Novel. Ed. Holly Blackford. USA: University of Tennessee Press, 2011. 261-315. Print.
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. USA: Harper, 2010. Print.
Murphy, Mary. Scout, Atticus, and Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird. USA: Harper, 2010. Print.
Shields, Charles J. Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee. USA: Holt Paperbacks, 2007. Print.
Wood, Jeffrey B. “Bending the Law: The Search for Justice and Moral Purpose”. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird: New Essays. Ed. Michael J. Meyer. USA: Scarecrow Press, 2010. Print.
“To Kill a Mockingbird”: Book and Movie Differences Essay
To kill a Mockingbird is an interesting novel amongst the most famous books in American literal cycles. It is a typical novel that has attracted the interest of film makers, in terms of adaptation. The novel prompted the creation of a movie, under the same title, and it is evident that certain similarities and differences are present.
Apparently, the differences between the book and the movie remain conspicuous and unique due to several implications. It is evident that some issues in the film are presented in a better way than it is done in the book. The novel may also have some strong points and attributes as opposed to the film.
Narration stands out as a major difference between the movie and the novel. To Kill a Mockingbird is a story based on Scout’s narration of major events, but this aspect is seemingly avoided in the film. The director focuses on the actions of Jem in a bid to forego Scout’s first-person narration in the movie.
In other words, the role played by Jem is broadened in the movie as opposed to the narration provided by his brother. Here, the viewer is able to witness all the events visually. For instance, Scout’s narration of Boo’s mysterious activities is replaced with Jem’s actions on the same. Jem locates all the letters at the tree, accompanies his father to Helen Robinson’s house, after her husband’s death, as well as stays home to watch over his sister. These events were previously narrated by Scout in the novel.
The film also introduces additional characters and this stands out as a big difference. For instance, the novel only dedicates one paragraph to Jem’s mother as the two brothers engage in a conversation about her. However, the film introduces Jem’s mother for the audience to see. Additionally, viewers are able to see more characters like Robinson’s father and children since they are not greatly featured in the book.
The issue of time also greatly features in the differences portrayed in the book and the novel. It is important to note that the film, To Kill a Mockingbird entails most of the aspects depicted in the novel. However, several omissions are evident. In the film, the contact between Mrs. Dubois and the children is omitted.
In simpler terms, viewers of the film are not able to witness the events that transpired inside the classroom. Episodes that characterize other minor characters like Miss Gates are also omitted from the film due to time factors. The film’s setting takes slightly more than two years as opposed to the novel’s story line which took three years.
The director certainly avoided the first-person narration provided by Scout because films basically base on visual properties. It is, therefore, difficult to present narrations in a film. The director also introduced more characters in a bid to fully develop the story line as presented in the novel. Viewers are able to see the characters and they become more conversant with the story line.
Additional characters also introduce more communication cues and the story becomes interesting and relevant. Lastly, the director omitted other parts in the film because films are generally shorter and more precise than books. It is not possible to cover all the events covered in a book when making a film as exemplified in To Kill a Mockingbird. The film is definitely better than the novel due to additional characters, important communication cues, and precision.
What It Takes to Kill a Mockingbird: In Search for the Differences between the Novel and a Movie Essay
Adapting a novel into a good movie is not an easy task; it is especially difficult when the novel is something like To Kill a Mockingbird. Such novels exist on their own. They do not need to have movies made about them; but when a movie is made, the only way for the latter to justify its existence is to be perfect. If the novel is not broken, no one should try to fix it. Luckily, the adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird is just as brilliant as its original source.
However, to fit the running time, Mulligan has to cut several scenes. Despite the fact that cutting these scenes never hurt the movie canvas, it is actually rather peculiar to consider the implications behind the director’s choices.
The First Difference: The Scene with Camellias
Perhaps, the first difference to be named in this list is the conflict between the children and Mrs. Dubose. In the book, the old lady teases the children, being an old and unpleasant scandalmonger. Once after going to a parade with Scout, Jem hits the roof and destroys Mrs. Dubose’s garden of camellias. After being punished and forced to read to Mrs. Dubose, Jem gets to know his enemy better and, much to his surprise, feels that the wall between them starts to ruin.
After her untimely death, Jen finds out that she was also addicted to morphine yet managed to get rid of this habit, and Jem unknowingly helped her to: “She took it as a pain-killer for years. The doctor put her on it. She’d have spent the rest of her life on it and died without so much agony, but she was too contrary—” (Lee 60).The scene in which Jem receives the gift from the deceased, a camellia, and becomes completely overwhelmed, is a very strong moment which, sadly enough, is not represented in the movie.
The Second Difference: Fighting for Justice
The characters both in the novel and in the movie were often pushed to the breaking point; however, one of such moments described in the book was left out of the movie. The scene in which Scout fights her cousin and gets punished for it sheds much light on her as an emotional character who will always stand for justice.
The Third Difference: A Bedtime Story
The last, but definitely not the least, the final part of the novel, in which Atticus reads Scout Jem’s book does not add much to the plot; neither does it reveal any more significant details about the characters. Therefore, the reasons for Mulligan to leave it out of the film are understood.
However, the story about the Ink Boy, whom Atticus reads about, sums up the whole story in a nutshell: “An‘ they chased him ’n‘ never could catch him ’cause they didn’t know what he looked like, an‘ Atticus, when they finally saw him, why he hadn’t done any of those things… Atticus, he was real nice…” (Lee 49).
It is clear that Harper Lee wanted to reiterate the key message of the novel in the final chapter; however, while looking natural and touching in a book, the given scene would have looked redundant after a nonetheless touching moment of Scout talking to Boo Radley.
It can be assumed that the aforementioned scenes would have hardly made the movie any more impressive than it already is. Introducing these plotlines would be rather challenging, since these scenes would have added more subplots to the film, making it unnecessarily complicated.
Lee, Harper Nelle. To Kill a Mockingbird. 1960. Web.
Mulligan, Robert (Prod. and Dir.). To Kill a Mockingbird. Hollywood, CA: Universal Studios. 1962. DVD. 22 Jun. 2013.
Novel Appreciation: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee Essay (Book Review)
Very few writers are able to create narratives that can be both entertaining and intellectually demanding at the same time. This thought continuously plagues students who are forced to incorporate the so-called “must-read” books in their intellectual repertoire. Unfortunately, this approach can sometimes completely stifle a person’s interest for literature of any kind.
This sense of disappointment can be familiar to many readers, especially those ones who study fiction at a professional level. Yet, Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the rare exceptions that retain its popularity even despite significant changes in the literary canon in the second half of the twentieth century. In particular, it proves to be an exciting reading experience and prompts the audience to reflect upon the nature of moral choices that an individual has to take.
This novel gives a person deep insights into the life of American South in the early thirties, at the time when the country was passing a dramatic turning point in its history. The author enables the audience to immerse into the fictional world of the Deep South and its complexities. The plot of the novel revolves around Atticus Finch and his children. He is a lawyer who desperately struggles to protect an unjustly accused Tom Robinson.
Atticus is aware that this accusation is mostly driven racial prejudices, rather than solid evidence, but his attempts are of no concern to other people who are mostly driven by their prejudices and biases. This narrative may not seem too sophisticated at first glance; it gives rise to many remarkable characters and themes that retain their relevance and vitality.
The contemporary discussion of this novel is often tied to the question of racism; nevertheless, I’m convinced that this book can be of great interest to modern readers, and I’d like to discuss this claim in greater detail.
Arguably, the most striking element in this novel is its narrator. Scout Finch1 is a six-year-old girl who tries to make meaning of other people’s behavior. If you do not know much about this book, you may certainly ask why on earth I need to read ramblings of a child. However, this misgiving turns out to be groundless as soon as a person starts reading the book. The most surprising thing is that Scout combines serenity and naivety that make the reader look at the world through the eyes of this child.
This is one of the details that have often captivated me. One may just look at her description of Maycomb, “Maycomb2 was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop. … There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County”(Lee 6). In this way, the author introduces us into a small Southern town struggling through the Great Depression.
Admittedly, this narrator is slightly unrealistic, because one can hardly expect a six-year-old girl to be so insightful, attentive, and sophisticated. It is not likely that a child may use expressions like “vague optimism” in her speech (Lee 6). Nevertheless, this limitation does not undermine the credibility of this book because the characters portrayed by the author can gain the trust of the audience. This argument is particularly relevant if one discusses children who explore the surrounding and discover both beauty and injustice.
For instance, Scout is completely puzzled by the fact that people can be dehumanized only due to the color of their skin. Unfortunately, many adults, who surround her, take these norms for granted. This sense of misunderstanding can remind many of readers of their own childhood and their attempts to understand why adults can act foolishly or even cruelly. In turn, Harper Lee can describe the experiences of a child in a very engaging way.
Although, this novel includes the elements of the Bildungsroman3 depicting the intellectual growth of a child (Mills 61), Harper Lee is also able to explore the concepts of justice and injustice in the American society (Mills 61). In many cases, post-modern literature is strangely silent on this topic. One should keep in mind that this book is partly based on Harper Lee’s childhood experiences, and she was a direct witness to the problems affecting the community.
In particular, the author focuses on the prejudiced attitudes against black people who could be marginalized by the existing institutions. At the same time, this novel evokes the memories of childhood which is full of unexpected discoveries and joys. However, the most remarkable thing is the way in which the protagonist tries to overcome her fears.
This argument is relevant if one speaks about her relations with Arthur Radley who is often viewed as a mystical monster by other children. Yet, it eventually turns out that children’s beliefs are completely unjustified. To a great extent, Harper Lee meticulously captures the experiences of a child who cannot easily accept the unknown. It seems that very few writers are able to achieve this degree of realism. This is the reasons why this book continues to be of great interest to readers representing different generations and cultures.
This novel is also remarkable because it highlights the importance of moral education without being too obtrusive. Much attention should be paid to Atticus Finch who is able to act as a role model without imposing his opinions on Scout and Jem. As a rule, such attempts are doomed to failure and he chooses a different strategy by encouraging children to think critically.
It is possible to say that moral education is one of the themes that are looked down upon in the post-modern literature. In contrast, Harper Lee is able to show how art and ethics can be reconciled. This attribute of the novel makes readers place themselves in the position of Atticus and Scout who are able to combine kindness and intelligence. So, to some degree, Harper Lee sets an example for parents who need to understand how to influence the behavior of children.
Admittedly, modern critics do not pay much attention to this novel since it doesn’t entirely belong to the post-modern age. Contemporary literary canon lays too much stress on the use of allusions and inter-textual references. However, one should keep in mind that very often, critics prove to be mistaken and in many cases, they can just overlook true literary masterpieces. To Kill a Mocking Bird is one of the literary works that can be better appreciated in the future. This is one of the hopes that I cherish.
Older readers know about this book mostly due to the eponymous film directed by Robert Mulligan. The roles of Scout and Atticus were masterfully played by Mary Badham and Gregory Peck whose performances are still memorable. Nevertheless, reading this novel is a more fulfilling experience that enables a person to relive the moments of childhood. This is why it is worth reading.
At the same time, this novel has a very complex historical background demonstrating how American societies struggled through racism and economic depression that threaten the very survival of many people. It is also possible to say the author shows how people can retain their humanity despite the prevalent stereotypes and dominant social conditions.
The main strength of Harper Lee is that she is able to explore the connections between social and individual forces. In turn, readers are prompted to examine these relations more closely. The main issue is that this examination is both engaging and thought-provoking.
Despite possible limitations, this novel is the fiction that that combines intellectualism and breath-taking narrative that makes readers emphasize with Scout, Atticus, and Jem. To a great extent, To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the books that retain the status of a classic work without being boring. Admittedly, this novel depicts the problems that do not seem to be relevant to the modern societies.
However, the author is able to create characters who seem to override cultural and age differences. More importantly, the ethical questions that they ask have not lost their meaning. So, reading this novel can still prove a rewarding experience. This book combines naivety and shrewdness, and this combination distinguishes it among other literary works.
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird, New York: Grand Central Publishing, 1988. Print.
Mills, Catriona. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, New York: Insight Publications, 2011. Print.
1 Her real name is Jean Louise, but other people call her Scout.
2 Don’t try to locate this town on the map. It is a fictional place imbedded in the fictional universe created by the author.
3 The novel describing the psychological and moral development of a person.