The novel To Kill A Mockingbird revolves around a young girl named Jean Louise Finch who goes by the nicknamed “Scout”. Scout experiences different events in her life that dramatically change her life. Scout and her brother Jem are being raised by their father, a lawyer named Atticus and a housekeeper named Calpumia in a small town in the south. At this point in time in the South racism and discriminations towards black was a big issue . The story begins when Scout is 6 years old, and her brother is about to enter the 5th grade. That summer Scout and her brother meet a young boy named Dill who comes from Mississippi to spend the summers there. They become fascinated with a man named “Boo” Radley, a man in his thirties who has not been seen outside of his home in years, mainly because of his suppressed upbringing. They have an impression of Mr. Radley as being this large ugly and evil man. Then comes the trial. Scout’s father becomes a defense attorney for a black man, Tom Robinson, who is falsely accused of raping a white women. This has a big affect on Scout. During this trial she gets teased by friends because her father was helping this black man. Scout starts to see the racism that exist. During the trial Scout and her brother and close friend Dill witness the trial. Even though they are young they can see that Mr. Robinson is innocent. Even though Mr. Robinson’s innocence was clear even in the eyes of kids, Mr. Robinson was still found guilty. Later in an attempt to escape, Mr. Robinson is shot dead. Scout is extremely disappointed at the verdict and even more at the death of Mr. Robinson and realizes the injustice that exist. Later in a cowardly attempt by the alleged rape victims father, tries to kill Scout and her brother in order to get even with her father for making him look back in court. This is when Mr.Radley makes an appearance again an stabs their attacker. Even though Mr. Radley kills a man he is not tried for murder because he was defending the Scout and her brother. Finally some justice. This gives Scout some hope that is a chance for improvement in this unjust world.
(Discussion of main themes in To Kill A Mockingbird)
There are many different themes present in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The first theme which I will discuss is “Prejudice”. The whole story revolved around the prejudice views of this Southern community. The whole reason why the trial was going on was because of people views towards blacks in the south. Since the alleged rape victim’s father has such a prejudice view towards black, he is embarrassed that his daughter was actually flirting with a black man. To combat this he falsely accuses the innocent Mr. Robinson of rape. If it wasn’t for the prejudice view which existed in the south the accusation would had never been brought against Mr. Robinson. These prejudice views in the south created a double standard of justice. With all the negative points that can be found in the story in respect to prejudice, there was a bright spot when it came to the prejudice issue. This “ray of light” came in the form of Scout’s father Atticus. Atticus represented hope. Hope that good people still exist. Even in a society filled with hate. Atticus represented the hope that one day things can change
The “Prejudice” theme also ties in well with the title of the book “To Kill A Mocking Bird.” In Chapter 10, Scout and Jem Finch get air rifles for Christmas. Scouts father tells her and her brother that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird because mockingbirds are harmless creatures who do nothing but sing for our enjoyment. In the story To Kill a Mockingbird Mr. Robinson is clearly the “Mocking Bird”. He is a good man who has never harmed anyone and is figuratively and literally shot by society because of prejudice. The jurors sentence him to death not because he did anything wrong but because of prejudice. He is then later shot for trying to escape this unjust ruling. Mr. Robinson just like a mockingbird is shot for no reason at all.
The second theme which I will discuss is “coming of age”. The “Coming of age” theme basically entails a character who evolves to a new level of self awareness through his or her experiences in life. This is clearly the case with Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. An example of Scout’s “coming of age” can be seen when she meets her friend Dill. Dill comes from a broken home and lives somewhere beyond Alabama. Scout who comes from a good home is awaken to the different quality of life that exist and is able to come to a conclusion that life exist beyond the world she knows. Through these experiences she grows more tolerant of others, learning how to “climb into another person’s skin and walk around in it.” On her first day of school she finds that just like with Dill there are both social and poor classes in society, some are respectable and others not. She also learns that her father is an extra-ordinary man, fighting for a Negro’s rights in court. During the trial of Tom Robinson Scout learns about equality and inequality and finally about racial prejudice. By the final chapters of the novel, Scout goes to another “coming of age experience.” She learns that good people can still suffer injustice. She realizes this when she see’s Tom Robinson suffer injustice even though they did nothing to deserve it. She discover that the courts does not always result in justice. In the end after all of Scout’s experiences and discoveries we get the sense that she will not follow the prejudice views which her society upholds. In the end Scout had matured and grown more as a kid, than many adults will do in there lifetime.
The third and final theme which I will discuss is “Justice”. In the story To Kill a Mockingbird I feel,the author, Ms. Lee portrays true justice as being best seen through the eyes of the innocent. In the story Scout and her brother, being the innocent,can clearly see the injustice being done to Mr. Robinson. In contrary to Scout and her brother other people in society more specifically the older people in the town, the people who have lived through different experiences, become blinded when it comes to true justice. Or maybe they are not blinded but just choose to ignore it. This is clearly seen when they sentence an innocent man to death. This ignorance of justice can be blamed on the prejudice views which are present and eventually instilled in society in the south. So I feel that Harper Lee is connecting justice with innocence to a certain extent. In my opinion Harper Lee portrays justice as being easily detected. The reason I say this is even the young justice. The problem is society can instill beliefs that can act as a veil and blind the people from justice. The only way to uncover this veil is through people like Atticus who can pass his morality and nobility to the young and the “blinded”
(Would I recommend this book?)
I would definitely recommend people to read the book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I found it to be an interesting and powerful book. I feel the book does a great job in portraying the extreme prejudice that existed in the south at that time. I feel this book makes a powerful statement on how justice can be altered through racism. I also think that the themes found in the book are themes which can still be found in our current society and that makes it the more interesting. You can even make a case that prejudice still has an effect in our legal system today. So if you are looking for a powerful book of “coming of age” and the battle for justice I would highly recommend To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.