To Kill a Mockingbird Essay
1. Genre: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a bildungsroman as Scout Finch learns about injustice and her reality, faces her suspicions, and broadens her perspective on life and society. Scout’s life abruptly turns from a lighthearted adolescence to a life full of sudden changes and intimidating events.
At the beginning of the novel, Scout barely understands or witness racial and prejudicial issues. Atticus explains to her as she begins to view these situations that, “As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it – 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.” Scout learns through Atticus’ direction that regardless of the injustices and reality that she faces, she can endure and stand up for those who cannot. Scout matures when she faces her fears. When she stood on his porch, and forced herself to “climb inside of his skin and walk around in it” she cultivates herself into a courageous individual.
She realizes that the heedless town rumors that Boo stabbed his father with scissors, poisons the pecans from his tree, eats squirrels and cats, and freezes flowers with his breath cannot define her beliefs. She overcomes her childlike thought process and matures into a bright young lady.Ironically, Boo Radley, the man who was once the forefront of Scout’s nightmares, ultimately saved her life from Bob Ewell. Scout advances her perspective on life and society through obeying Atticus’ teachings and opposing the racist social order. She learned that regardless of what society taught or inflict upon her, that she had strong roots of courage and faith.
Scout tremendously progresses throughout To Kill a Mockingbird emotionally, physically, and most importantly mentally. Atticus’ bravery and belief in justice projected and matured not only his children, but Maycomb as well. Atticus’ integrity impacted Maycomb by bringing it closer toward racial equality, and by making it stop even if just for a little while and confront its position. Scout and Jem learned and matured most while watching Atticus defend the disadvantaged. 2.
Character development: Calpurnia speaks differently when she around black and white people. She justifies this act by saying that she does not want to seem arrogant. My reaction to this validation is that it is good and in fact an extremely kind act of love. The fact that Calpurnia took the steps necessary to learn to speak proper is very admirable. Though it is difficult for her to switch back and forth she does it because she cares. She cares about the Finches enough to talk the way that they do, unaccented and proper.
However, if she were to talk the same way around in her black community she would properly come off extremely condescending. Calpurnia would most likely offend her friends and neighbors by making them feel as if they are less than her or that she is trying to show off her education.She also is at work when she speaks proper and unaccented; she wants to seem as professional as possible. Conversely, if she is in the comfort of her own home and community that is unnecessary. Calpurnia is exceedingly kind, considerate, and selfless. Her acts of respectfulness and thoughtfulness speak volumes about her character.
I believe that Calpurnia’s lifestyle and differing dialects is one that shows her appreciation and admiration of the people around her. 3. Character development: Atticus is a man, father, and friend of extreme integrity. Atticus despite pronounced criticism, detestation, and maltreatment maintains his respect position by almost everyone because he stays calm in the face of adversity. He never retaliates; he constantly forgives, and never displays any resentment. “… Atticus was leaving the post office when Mr.
Ewell approached him, cursed him, spat on him, and threatened to kill him”, however Atticus stood his ground and simply replied after being challenged to a fight that he could not because he was “too old”. I believe that this altercation in particular displayed Atticus fearlessness best. His audacity in not being deterred at all by this act of violence is astonishing. Atticus’ self-sacrificing nature is admirable and is seen in Tom Robinson, his community, and even the Ewell children. Atticus’ shows his selfless nature once again to his children when he shares with them after the Ewell confrontation that, “…if spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that’s something I’ll gladly take”.
Throughout it all, Atticus retains his place of respect because he does not let his circumstances define his attitude and character. Atticus’ integrity both inside his home and outside of it shines brightly to all who know him, regardless whether they support his actions. Miss Merriweather refers to Atticus when she says, “There are some good but misguided people in this town”. I believe that most people share her same view on Atticus. That regardless if he is right or wrong in his heart he is caring and noble. Therefore, he at least deserves their respect as a man of good and honest character.
4. Theme: To Kill a Mockingbird communicates to readers the power of language and its ability to hurt. Atticus teaches Scout after Francis calls Atticus a “n*****-lover” that “it’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you.” Atticus shows that what seemingly bad things that are said about you can show your good character. In this case, it shows that Atticus aims to love everyone no matter their race or class.
The power of language to offend someone is determined about the person character. Atticus is mistreated constantly for his actions; however he never lets it effect his decisions. Language has command and influence because you its hurled, and once it is unable to be withdraw back. Mrs. Dubose harshly insults Atticus and the whole Finch family.
Atticus responds with polite conversation whether or not what she said hurt him. He remained serene and respectful because he was mature enough to allow her to state her opinions without him retaliating. “Easy does it, son,” Atticus would say. “She’s an old lady and she’s ill. You just hold your head high and be a gentleman.
Whatever she says to you, it’s your job not to let her make you mad.” Atticus uses his power of language to comfort Jem. However, Jem breaks with hurt and anger and cuts off the buds of Mrs. Dubose’s camellias. Atticus again does not encourage Jem’s behavior.
He instead orders him to apologize and makes him read to her each afternoon for a month. Atticus repays someone else’s hurtful words for good. Through uses the power of language for healing, Atticus teaches both Jem and Mrs. Dubose. He teaches Jem a lesson the courage through Mrs.
Dubose, and Mrs. Dubose the lesson of unconditional kindness. The power of language is seen when Mr. Cunningham and his mob show up to lynch Tom Robinson. “He in there, Mr.
Finch?” a man said. “He is,” we heard Atticus answer, “and he’s asleep. Don’t wake him up.” In obedience to my father, there followed what I later realized was a sickeningly comic aspect of an unfunny situation: the men talked in near-whispers. “You know what we want,” another man said. “Get aside from the door, Mr.
Finch.” “You can turn around and go home again, Walter,” Atticus said pleasantly.” Atticus composure and resilience contains a huge mob of angry racist men. The mob continues to hurl hurtful words at Atticus and threats. However, when unknowing and innocent Scout shows up and gives Walter Cunningham some perspective the mob disperses on his order. The power that language has is incredible.
Hurtful language can be dispersed by kind, honest words. At the jail “it took an eight-year-old child to bring ’em to their senses…” but in the novel as a whole several innocent thoughtful people respond to others hurtful language for gentle words. Language has the power to hurt, but not the power to destroy unless the afflicted allows it to.
The power of language in To Kill a Mockingbird shows its ability to hurt, heal, and honor others. It is shown to honor when the black people stand for Atticus as he is passing after the trial. The silent yet powerful body language of the people shows their extreme indebtedness to Atticus for all he has done for them. Language is an influential force, whether used for harmful or honorable intentions. To Kill a Mockingbird communicates that the power of language and its ability to hurt is harsh and sometimes difficult to handle.
However, it also encourages us that with the same power language possess that it can be used with kindheartedness.