Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

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Harper Lee did not originally write To Kill a Mockingbird for adolescents, yet it has become a novel that is used in American high schools across the nation and is considered literature with a capital L. In the novel, Lee lays a foundation of moral instruction, living history and character development providing a great deal of moral insight for the reader. Her use of first person narration and an adolescent protagonist create a strong tie with the adolescent reader and make it fun to read. With an underlying theme of movement from childhood to adulthood, Lee’s children in the book learn a valuable lesson, and the students reading it also get that message. Lee uses moral instruction to connect the reader to the story and through the use of a literary term called allusion. To Kill A Mockingbird walks us through sins of society and the moral role we play when we respond to others. Atticus points out several time that you should never judge a man “Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”1 Lee writes To Kill a Mockingbird to point out basic morals people should live by and she does this through the life and times of adolescents. The point of view is one in which adolescents, through thoughts and feelings, can connect. The novel also depicts a single father that demonstrates moral responsibility even in situations of difficulty and a world of intolerance, “It’s not fair for you and Jem, I know that, but sometimes we have to make the best of things, and the way we conduct ourselves when the chips are down . . . . this case is something that goes to the essence of a man’s conscious”.2 The story is a faced-paced tale of passage from childhood to adulthood using historical and social settings. It deals with emotions that are... ... middle of paper ... ...tly, Miss Finch, I’m not much of a drinker, but you see they could never, never understand that I live like I do because that’s the way I want to live”8 The one major theme that makes this novel not only a great piece of literature but appeals to the adolescents as well is the direct instruction of how to treat others. The novel details examples of moral responsibility through Atticus. Lee, through her use of first person, establishes characters that demonstrate the behavior that she feels is morally necessary for people to show. The characters are role models on many different levels. The author wants the reader to walk away from the book with the same realization as Scout, that people are “real nice . . . once you finally see them.”9 Scout and Jem represent the audience for To Kill a Mockingbird; people that can still see things through the innocence of a child.
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