Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

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Childhood is a continuous time of learning, and of seeing mistakes and using them to change your perspectives. In the book To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee illustrates how two children learn from people and their actions to respect everyone no matter what they might look like on the outside. To Kill A Mockingbird tells a story about two young kids named Scout and her older brother Jem Finch growing up in their small, racist town of Maycomb, Alabama. As the years go by they learn how their town and a lot of the people in it aren’t as perfect as they may have seemed before. When Jem and Scout’s father Atticus defends a black man in court, the town’s imperfections begin to show. A sour, little man named Bob Ewell even tries to kill Jem and Scout all because of the help Atticus gave to the black man named Tom Robinson. Throughout the novel, Harper Lee illustrates the central theme that it is wrong to judge someone by their appearance on the outside, or belittle someone because they are different.
In this book, Harper Lee clearly demonstrates the importance of not judging a book by its cover in the person of Boo Radley. Boo was a boy never seen outside his house ever since he was caught by the authorities involving himself in mischief. Rumors had been spread that he was locked in his house and chained to his bed by his overly religious family. Since people never really knew what Boo looked like, Jem made up his own theory. “Boo was six-and-a-half feet tall judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that’s why his hands were bloodstained – if you ate an animal raw you could never wash the blood off. There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face…” (13). Although nobody really knew Boo, he was blamed for everything that went wrong in the town. As the story goes on Boo starts to secretly involve himself in Jem and Scout’s lives. He does things like putting a blanket on Scout’s shoulders during a fire at Miss. Maudie’s house. “You were so busy looking at the fire; you didn’t know it when he put the blanket around you.

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” Atticus tells scout (74). Boo also showed his kind heart when he put small gifts inside a tree for Jem and Scout. As the entire story unfolded Jem and Scout had finally realized that you can never judge a book by its cover, as Scout learned while reading the book The Gray Ghost at bedtime one night. Scout interrupts Atticus, “ An’ they chased him ‘n’ never could catch him cause they didn’t know what he looked like an’ when they finally saw him, why he hadn’t done any of those things…Atticus he was real nice…” (261)
In the middle to end sections of the book, Harper Lee incorporates more examples of the central theme by involving Jem and Scout in the life of an old woman named Mrs. Dubose. Mrs. Dubose was an elderly woman who lived alone. She spent most of her time in bed and the rest of it in a wheelchair. Mrs. Dubose doesn’t really accept the Finch’s way of life or the way that Mr. Finch raises Jem and Scout. She said “Its heartbreaking, the way Atticus finch lets his children run wild,” Scout talks about Mrs. Dubose (100). Jem and scout often try to find a path around Mrs. Dubose’s house so they don’t have to be subjected to another lecture about how they would never amount to anything. “Jem and I hated her. If she was on the porch when we passed, we would be raked by her wrathful gaze, subjected to her ruthless interrogations regarding our behavior and given a melancholy prediction on what we would amount to when we grew up, which was always nothing” (99). Since many people in the town didn’t respect Mrs. Dubose, people made up rumors, Saying things like “She kept a CSA Pistol concealed among her numerous shawls and wraps” (99). Many people judged Mrs. Dubose before they knew her. If people actually took the time to learn about Mrs. Dubose they would realize that she was only like that because she didn’t have anybody’ s attention when she really needed it. This is why she asked jem to read to her right before she passed away. “She’s dead son” Atticus told Jem “she died a few minutes ago” (110)
The fact you should never judge a book by its cover comes to life whenever the mention of tom Robinson’s name comes up. Tom Robinson was a poor, married, black man who lives in a town full of racism. Tom was accused of raping a white girl and entering her house without her consent. Although many people passed judgment on Tom, others didn’t. Many people thought tom was a wonderful man who would never do anything to anger a white man. Atticus proved that Tom Robinson was innocent by proving that he could not have punched Mayella in the eye that she claimed he had because of his injured arm. “He got it caught in a cotton gin when he was a boy…like to bleed to death… tore all the muscle loose from his bones.” (186). By the time the jury was over everyone in that court room knew that tom was innocent, but because he was black he was sentenced to jail because a white mans word always beats a black man’s. Although tom was in fact innocent he made a few mistakes saying things like, “I felt right sorry for her, she seems to try more n’ the rest of em-“(197). Things like this angered the white men just because he was black. Everyone in town knew that Tom was a wonderful person on the inside no matter what the color of his skin was which is why Atticus fought so hard for tom until the day he was killed.
While reading through the pages in this book, it is clear that Harper Lee wanted to teach people that it is wrong to pass judgment on someone by the way they look on the outside, and that people’s perspectives of others on the outside are usually wrong. Even in the world today people are judged by the place they grew up, their religion and the color of their skin. These judgments are made by the people who are too arrogant to really learn about and get to know people who may be different than them. People today don’t realize that people who look different shouldn’t be treated any different than them, everyone is just as good as everyone else.
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