Give a summary on What and How Harper Lee wanted readers to take away from this story?…………….
Several messages come across in the book. However, racial prejudice can be identified as the main theme in the story. This has been revealed in the entirety of the novel: It’s highlighted in the Tom Robinson Trial. The jury which consisted of whites convicts Tom even though his innocence is evident. Even after the abolishment of slavery, the whites could not still accept that equality amongst blacks and whites existed. This restricts Tom –who is black- to clinch victory over a white person –in his case Mayella Ewells- during the trial. Racial prejudice extends to property ownership. Almost all Black community members are laborers.
Racial prejudice clouds the minds of many citizens in the town. Atticus, shows his lack of bias towards the black community, however, Stephanie Crawford stoops so low and shows her lack of civility by uttering unfavorable and cheap remarks against him. Moreover, Walter Cunningham attempts to harm Atticus. What is surprising is that, Walter is not better off than the blacks (financially).
Other issues that come out clearly in the book include, need for love, concern and morality. Additionally, sympathy for misfits in society is also portrayed. Respect for humanity and generally life is portrayed by the lessons Atticus teaches his children. He asks Jem never to shoot a mockingbird. He considers them harmless; they sing to please others. Atticus himself never carries a gun in a bid to emphasis how much he values human life and dignity. Jem seems to have taken the lessons learnt from his father positively as he never allows Scout to disturb the earthworms he has dug out.
Mayella, Boo Radley and Dill are some characters in the book who have been denied love and affection by people who should show them love and affection. In contrast, Jem and Scout have grown up around people who show them love and affection. The result of the comparison is evident in the behavior and out comings in the story. Jem and Scout are able to show love and affection in various ways. For instance, Walter is always invited to Scout’s home; furthermore, Dill is also, sometimes, sheltered in Scout’s home. Moreover, they make several attempts to befriend Boo Radley.
The writer also takes the reader through the process of growth and development. The writer is taken through growth from innocence to maturity. The author mixes both themes so as to portray a perfect and a well-tended novel.
The writer also tries to show social snobbery that is very common in the society. Mayella Ewell is not allowed by society to befriend anyone and consequently she cannot lead a normal life. Snobbery has created a gap in the society because people from different classes cannot associate freely. Aunt Alexandra is skeptical about Scout befriending Walter Cunningham because of the difference in class. Furthermore, the blacks are denied any financial opportunities and education. In addition they are outlawed from mingling with the whites.
Atticus does not support snobbery in the society. He openly favors blacks; in fact he has a black housekeeper (Harper 1960). Additionally he does not scold his children for attending Calpurnia’s church. This has made Atticus be despised and face disapproval from the community. However, this does not shake Atticus’s confidence on his beliefs and does not deter his actions.
Harper Lee must have seen the harm that racial prejudice has on the equation of humanity. Naturally, a house cannot support itself without the beams. The same can be said of society. Just like the fingers in a person’s hand, we can never be equal. This, however, does not mean that we should despise each other. One person’s weakness is another’s strength and vice versa. Furthermore, it does not mean that only a particular group of people is superior –weak people exists in a “superior” group- as evident in the story. Lee continues to show that love keeps a family together and consequently knits the community together. Atticus showed love to his children. His children reciprocated by showing love to other members of society. It also helped his children understand that all people are equal despite their differences.
The Mystery of Boo Radley
Boo Radley has been a great mystery especially to the children. They used to hear strange stories about Boo. Miss Crawford used to feed people with strange gossip about Boo –which the children heard- and the children thought Boo to be a very weird and complicated individual. They believed Boo to be very scary. Moreover, the children thought Boo was a very fierce person; however, as they soon came to later find out, Boo was a very kind person. He only behaved the way he did so that people don’t mind about him and let him go about his own business in peace. The children also thought that he never left his own house. This made the children fear Boo even more. What the children never knew was that, Boo actually left his house whenever he felt like. It only happened that when he left his house the children –Scout, Dill and Jen- were never around. Boo’s story and Tom’s story are quiet similar. Both represent fear in the story. Boo fears how his society is turning out to be and he decides to hide himself away from his community. Tom fears that his community is much prejudicial to his people –blacks- and they can go to any length to eliminate them. That is why he runs away even though he knew he did not commit any crime. The mockingbird –a bird that means no harm- can be equated to the two –Tom and Boo- because both meant no harm to anyone in the society. Yet, both were wrongly judged by society. Society did not place itself in their shoes and try understanding the burden they were carrying. In the end, just like an innocent mocking bird, Tom was killed. Later on, Scout came to understand Boo and realized that he was not a bad person after all (Boo saw the adult world to be very senseless and he never wanted anything to do with it) (LITCHARTS 2012).
Chart Representing Different Characters in the Book
|Characters that represent justice, reason, empathy, tolerance, and good||Characters that represent evil and prejudice||Ambiguous characters|
|Atticus Finch, Scout, Jem, Dill, Calpurnia, Aunt Alexandra, Maudie Atkinson, Heck Tate, Reverend Sykes, Judge Taylor, Walter Cunningham, Adolphus Raymond, Uncle Jack||Bob Ewell, Mrs. Dubose, Mr.Gilmer, Francis||Boo Radley, Mayella Ewell, Walter Cunningham (Jr.)|
Meaning of the Phrase “It’s a Sin to Kill a Mockingbird”
Generally a mocking bird is a very harmless bird. It always sings to bring happiness to those near it. It would be very cruel for an individual to kill a mockingbird yet it means no harm. In the book, “mockingbird” refers to the kind hearted people in the society. Everyone assumed Boo to be a nasty person. Yet, he leaves presents for the children in the tree. Tom, who represents black’s struggle against oppression, is killed yet he has not committed any crime. Society pays for their deeds of killing the mocking birds. The wages of sin is death after all.
Life Lessons Scout learns from her father
Scout learns from her father important lessons. She learns that it is important to respect everyone in society. She comes to understand that society has to function with everyone living as a team and cooperating in society’s activities. She comes to understand that in order to understand someone, one has to put themselves in their shoes. If you feel the pain, then the other person feels the same pain too. Additionally she comes to realize that society is not equal. However, this does not mean that there should be oppression. Everyone has got a right to live in whatever society they find themselves. Additionally, weak people in society have to be assisted voice their concerns; they should not be left to struggle alone. She learns that, if a person is in a position to help so, they should do it whole heartedly.
Harper, L. To Kill a Mockingbird. Unites States: J.B Lippincott & Co. 1960. Print.
LITCHARTS. To Kill a Mocking Bird: Chapter 23. 2012. Web. 12 March 2012.
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