To Kill A Mockingbird Essay: Southern Tradition Exposed

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Southerners are known to be proud of their traditional beliefs. To Kill A Mockingbird allows its readers to question and consider those beliefs. Maycomb represents a typical old southern town. Not many people move into Maycomb and not many people who live there journey beyond its boundaries. As a result, the opinions held by many of the citizens of Maycomb are left to grow and foster in the same families for many generations. The circumstances in Maycomb are less than ideal for generating change and more prone to sustaining traditionally accepted codes. Two codes embedded within southern social beliefs are class and race. The years of 1960 and 1961, when To Kill A Mockingbird was published, signaled a time of great change. The civil rights movement was in full swing and the country was undergoing social and economic reconstruction. Traditional thinking was being transformed into ideas and thoughts that had never been considered before, and old traditions were pitted against new ones. Looking into the Deep South, in a little town named Maycomb, tradition for most people meant prejudice, separation, and racism. Atticus Finch chooses to fight against this "old tradition" with traditions of his own. Because of his highly ethical character, Atticus is able to honorably defend Tom Robinson and promote a "new tradition" for himself and his children. Respect, dignity, and equality form the backbone of Atticus' belief system, a belief system containing qualities that are often overlooked in the traditional South. In the absence of outside support, Atticus fights his battle the only way he knows how -- with patience, perseverance, and honesty. The South and tradition are synonymous. Southerners are known to be proud of their tra... ... middle of paper ... ... After realizing that he is fighting an uphill battle, it is Atticus' integrity that keeps him pushing forward. He sees the problems with southern traditional social codes and he realizes they must be redefined -- for the sake of his children, and his children's children. Atticus knows that one of these days someone is "going to pay the bill for it"(p.221). He realizes that traditional beliefs will not be changed over night, and he does not expect it. His solution to his dilemma is to stick firmly to his southern tradition and his beliefs. Atticus Finch is a true Southern gentleman. His courage, nobility, pride, and honesty allow him to do what few men at the time could do. Atticus does not fool himself by ignoring the inevitable. He accepts his position and attacks the traditional views that he does not believe in like a true gentleman -- face to face.

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