To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is an award-winning novel, published in 1960. Through six-year-old Scout, her narrator, Harper Lee drew an affectionate and detailed portrait of Maycomb, Alabama, a small, sleepy, depression-era town. The main plot concerns the trial of an unjustly accused black man who is steadfastly defended by Scout’s father, a respected lawyer. Covering a period of one year during Scout’s childhood in Alabama, the story reflects the details of small-town life in the South and examines the painfully unjust consequences of ignorance, prejudice, and hate, as well as the values of courage, honour, and decency. Harper Lee shows that what appears may not always be real by presenting life-like situations during the story.
One of the main themes in To Kill A Mockingbird is “racism”. Maycomb has both a black and white community. Both sides have racial views about each other. When Jem and Scout go to the black church a woman comes out and says, “You Ain’t got no business bringin’ white chillun here – they got their church, we out ours.” (Pg. 119) Both communities are hostile towards each other. When a black man is accused of a crime he doesn’t commit, he is still found guilty because of his skin colour. It is stated in the book, “In our courts, when its white man’s word against a black man’s, the white always wins. They’re ugly, but those are the facts of life.” (Pg. 220) However, most white people agree with this. Most of them think that Tom Robinson is guilty just because of the colour of his skin.
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The Radley property also threatens the lives of people brave enough to venture near it. The children believe that anything that comes from the Radley’s soil is poison, including the nuts and fruits on the trees. Jem yells at Scout once saying about the Radley property: “Don’t you know you’re not supposed to even touch the house over there? You’ll get killed if you do” (pg. 33). Jem also goes so far as to say, “if Dill wants to get himself killed, all he had to do was go up and knock on the front door” (pg. 13) No child has ever died from touching something on the Radley property, yet the children continue to believe it to be true. They envision Boo, Finch’s neighbour who never came out of his house, as a horrible beast that eats squirrels and rats with his bare hands who loves to kill children. At the end of the novel, the reader discovers that Boo emerges as a timid man who would never consider hurting a child. Yet, the children do not know or understand Boo, so they make his property threatening and evil.
In the first nine chapters of the novel Atticus Finch is pictured as a kind and understanding man and even Jean Louise doesn’t know much about her father. He is also an upright man who is trying to raise his children properly. In the tenth chapter, we get a clearer picture of him. First, we see him through the eyes of his children. To them, he is old and feeble because he can’t play football. Then an event occurs to change this picture. A mad dog, Tim Johnson, comes down the street. It is Atticus who is called upon by Tate to do the shooting. Heck says, “I would feel much more comfortable if you shot him now.” (p.96) His children see him now as a brave man.
Throughout the story, people that are unlike the majority, get hurt. They are given obstacles that they have to overcome in order to survive. Some people in the world can survive these obstacles, and there are some that just give up. By fighting for your rights, people start to realize that character is an important attribute to a person. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee showed me that people with differences are not always doing things the wrong way. It is the majority that may be going at it all wrong. She also encourages the theme “Appearances may not lead to reality” and gives some good examples for it.
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