To Kill a Mockingbird – A book review
To Kill a Mockingbird – A book review
The novel To Kill A Mockingbird revolves around a young woman named Jean Louise Finch who is nicknamed “Scout”. Scout experiences different events in her life that drastically 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 southern town. At this time in the South, racism and discrimination against blacks was a big problem. The story begins when Scout is 6 years old and her brother is about to enter 5th grade. That summer, Scout and her brother meet a 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 his home for years, mainly due to his repressed upbringing. They get the impression of Mr. Radley as this big, ugly, evil man. Then comes the judgment. Scout’s father becomes a defense attorney for a black man, Tom Robinson, who is falsely accused of raping a white woman. This has a huge effect on Scout. During this trial, friends tease her because her father was helping this black man. Scout begins to see the racism that exists. During the trial, Scout and her brother and close friend Dill are witnesses at the trial. Although they are young they can see that Mr. Robinson is innocent. Although the innocence of Mr. Robinson was clear even to children, Mr. Robinson was still found guilty. Later, in an attempt to escape, Mr. Robinson was shot dead. Scout is extremely disappointed by the verdict and even more so by the death of Mr. Robinson and realizes the injustice that exists. Later, in a cowardly attempt by the father of the alleged rape victims, he tries to kill Scout and her brother in order to disassociate himself from his father for making him look back at the court. That’s when Mr. Radley reappears and stabs his attacker. Although Mr. Radley kills a man, he is not tried for murder because he was defending the scout and his brother. Finally some justice. This gives Scout some hope that she is a chance for improvement in this unfair world.
(Discussion of the main themes in To Kill A Mockingbird)
There are many different themes present in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The first topic I will discuss is “Prejudice”. The whole story revolved around the prejudices of this southern community. The whole reason the trial was being held was because of people’s views of southern blacks. Because the father of the alleged rape victim has such a prejudiced view of black people, he is ashamed that his daughter was flirting with a black man. To combat this, he falsely accuses the innocent Mr. Robinson of rape. Were it not for the prejudice that existed in the South, the indictment would never have been brought against Mr. Robinson. These prejudiced views in the South created a double standard of justice. With all the negative points that can be found in history when it comes to prejudice, there was one bright spot when it came to the issue of prejudice. This “ray of light” came in the form of Scout’s father, Atticus. Atticus represented hope. Let’s hope there are still good people. Even in a society full of hate. Atticus represented the hope that one day things can change
The theme “Prejudice” also ties in well with the title of the book “To Kill a Mockingbird”. In Chapter 10, Scout and Jem Finch get air rifles for Christmas. The Scouts’ father tells her and her brother that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird because mockingbirds are harmless creatures that only sing for enjoyment. In the story To Kill a Mockingbird Mr. Robinson is clearly the “Mocking Bird.” He is a good man who has never hurt anyone and is figuratively and literally shot down by society because of prejudice. Jurors sentence him to death not because he did anything wrong but because of prejudice. Later, he is shot for trying to escape this unjust decision. Mr. Robinson, like a nightingale, is shot for no reason.
The second topic I will discuss is “coming of age”. The “Coming of Age” theme basically involves a character evolving into a new level of self-awareness through their experiences in life. This is clearly the case with Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. An example of Scout’s “maturity” 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 wakes up to the different quality of life out there and is able to come to the conclusion that life exists beyond the world she knows. Through these experiences he becomes more tolerant of others, learning to “step into someone else’s shoes and walk in them.” On his first day of school he discovers that just like with Dill there are social and poor classes in society, some are respectable and some are not. He also learns that his father is an extraordinary man, fighting for the rights of a black man in court. During Tom Robinson’s trial, Scout learns about equality and inequality and finally about racial prejudice. In the final chapters of the novel, Scout moves on to another “coming of age experience”. She learns that good people can still suffer injustice. He realizes this when he sees how Tom Robinson suffers an injustice even though they have done nothing to deserve it. She discovers that the courts do not always result in justice. In the end, after all of Scout’s experiences and discoveries, we get the feeling that she will not follow the prejudices that her society upholds. By the end, Scout had matured and grown more as a child than many adults will in a lifetime.
The third and last topic I will discuss is “Justice”. In the story To Kill a Mockingbird I feel, the author, Ms. Lee portrays true justice as best seen through the eyes of the innocent. In the story, Scout and her brother, being the innocent ones, can clearly see the injustice being done to Mr. Robinson. Unlike Scout and her brother, other people in society, more specifically the older people in the village, people who have lived different experiences, are blind when it comes to real justice. Or maybe they are not blinded, but choose to ignore it. This is clearly seen when they sentence an innocent person to death. This ignorance of justice can be attributed to the prejudices that are present and that are eventually instilled in southern society. So I think Harper Lee is connecting justice with innocence to some extent. In my opinion, Harper Lee portrays justice as easy to spot. The reason I say this is even young justice. The problem is that society can instill beliefs that can act as a veil and blind people from justice. The only way to uncover this veil is through people like Atticus who can convey their morality and nobility to the young and the “blind”.
(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 think the book does a great job of portraying the extreme prejudices that existed in the South at that time. I think this book makes a powerful statement about how justice can be altered through racism. I also think that the themes found in the book are themes that can still be found in our society today and that makes it more interesting. You could even argue that prejudice still has an effect on our legal system today. So if you’re looking for a powerful book about “coming of age” and the battle for justice, I recommend To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
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