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Society is unwilling to become aware and understand before it judges. This idea has a lot of effect on the plot of To Kill A Mockingbird. In this particular situation, these problems are initiated by prejudice. These circumstances become an issue when morality is questioned. The mockingbird is a reoccurring symbol that denotes the idea of the exploitation of blameless beings by those of higher influence. The prominent theme in To Kill A Mockingbird is that the innocent are often taken advantage of by those with more power.
Prejudice has a lot of control of what occurs throughout the novel. Scout depicts several situations when discrimination plays a major role in the outcome of certain events. Eventually, Scout learns "she must put herself in others' places before judging them" (Telgen 287). This narrow-mindedness is caused by racism, which was a key factor of life in the time period of this novel. Boo Radley suffered from others' bigotry. The unfair trial is another example of prejudice affecting society. According to Telgen's Novels For Students, "Scout's narrative relates how she and her elder brother Jem learn about fighting prejudice and upholding human dignity" (285). The innocent were corrupted largely in part to prejudice.
Racism was an important aspect in To Kill A Mockingbird. This novel "appeared at a time when racial tensions were reaching heated proportions in Alabama and the rest of the south"
(Moss 395). Blacks were demeaned by society including "the segregation of public restrooms and drinking fountains, as well as the practice of forcing blacks to ride in back of buses (Telgen 295). Many African Americans were still denied many of their basic rights in the 1960's. This intolerance led to an unjust trial for Tom Robinson. Racism is accountable for most of the prejudice in To Kill A Mockingbird.
Boo Radley was a victim of prejudice because after youthful pranks, his father confined him to their house. As a result, Boo became known as a "malevolent phantom." Later, Boo is revealed to be "a gentle soul through his unseen acts" (Telgen 292). Even though the community hasn't seen or heard from Boo in over 15 years, he is assumed to be a monster. Children of the neighborhood, including the narrator, harass Boo and adults try to avoid the entire family. In Interpretations, Bloom summarizes, "The one remaining victim of vicious gossip, Boo, has revealed himself as not only very much a human being, but as the savior of children" (35).
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The conclusion of the trial was shaped largely in part from the narrow-minded outlook of the jury. Atticus made a powerful, moving speech at the finish of the trial that drew attention to the obvious discrimination, opening with, "To begin with, this case should never have come to trial. This case is as simple as black and white." Tom Robinson was issued a blatantly wrong verdict decided upon simply because of his race. Telgen says in Novels For Students, "The fact that the jury accepts her word over his, even when it is demonstrated to be false, further illustrates the malicious power of racist thinking." Tom was convicted solely due to his skin color. The evidence he provided made far more sense than the testimony Mayella gave. Even though Mayella was obviously lying, Tom was still found guilty because Mayella was white. It
was unthinkable for a black person to win a case over a white person during this time. This racism determined the outcome of the trial. Eventually, a few citizens of Maycomb begin to question the ethical perspective of letting those with more power control beings with less authority. "In the three years surrounding the trial, Scout and her older brother, Jem, witness the unjust consequences of prejudice and hate while experiencing the value of courage and integrity through the example of their father" (Matuz 239). There are several situations concerning morality in To Kill A Mockingbird. Atticus's obligation to defend Tom Robinson was developed from his need to satisfy his ethic viewpoint. The unfair verdict was in complete disregard to any principles of decency. Lastly, many suffered from injustice and not receiving equal rights.
Atticus is appointed to defend Tom Robinson in a case deemed impossible by the majority of the town. Unlike the other lawyers, Atticus plans to do his best in supporting Tom. "Atticus confirms that he is defending a black man named Tom Robinson, who is accused of raping a white woman, and that his conscience compels him to do no less" (Telgen 287). Atticus knows he won't be able to face his children, friends, or his self if Atticus doesn't stand up for what he believes is right. Because he sees the morality of the state, "Atticus stands alone in confronting madness for the sake of the town" (Bloom 24). Atticus is one of the members of Maycomb that knows it's not right to persecute the innocent just because it's possible.
Another issue of integrity is the unreasonable verdict of several conflicts. Tom Robinson was convicted, despite the fact that the results, " relied instead upon the testimony of two witnesses whose evidence has not only been called into serious question on cross-examination, but has flatly been contradicted by the defendant" (Lee 215). Also, when Scout fought with Francis, she got punished as a consequence when Francis deserved it. Uncle Jack didn't wait to listen to Scout's side of the argument before he reacted. This serves as a parallel to the theme of unfair verdicts throughout To Kill A Mockingbird, which are ultimately called into question due to ethicality.
A final subject of morality in To Kill A Mockingbird is the question of equal rights versus injustice, which reoccurs in several different situations. In the same argument between Scout and Francis, Telgen points out, "If he [Uncle Jack] had stopped to learn both sides of the situation, he might have judged her [Scout] differentlywhich he eventually does" (293). Another case of injustice is obviously Tom Robinson's case. "Despite the presence of a more than reasonable doubt as to his guilt, despite the discrediting of the Ewells, the chief witnesses for the prosecution, Tom Robinson is condemned" (Matuz 240). Matuz also points out that, "There's something in our world that makes men lose their headsthey couldn't be fair if they tried (242). Boo Radley is also denied equal rights in that everyone believes him to be something he's not. "In practice, however, equal justices was not available to Boo Radley at that turning point in his life; nor is it available to the Tom Robinsons of this world (Bloom 63).
Atticus concludes his final speech, "We know all men are not created equal in the sense some people would have us believesome people are smarter than others, some people have more opportunity because they're born with it, some men make more money than others, some ladies bake better cakes than otherssome people are born gifted beyond the normal slope of most men" (Lee 217). To Kill A Mockingbird has many circumstances in which rights were biased and beings were treated inequitably.
The mockingbird is a symbol that illustrates the theme of manipulation of the innocent. "The mockingbird symbol in the novel acquires a profound moral significance" (Matuz 245). When Atticus presents Jem and Scout with air rifles at Christmas, he warns them never to kill a mockingbird. The children didn't understand why everything was acceptable for shooting except a mockingbird. "As Miss Maudie Atkinson explains, it would be thoughtlessly cruel to kill innocent creatures that don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy'" (Telgen 294). Also, Boo Radley and Tom Robinson are compared to a mockingbird. "Commentators maintain that this image of the songbird unites the characters of Tom and Boo; who both emerge as innocent victims of a prejudiced community" (Matuz 240). This symbol reoccurs through the novel, exemplifying the theme once again. Boo Radley and Tom Robinson are consistently compared to mockingbirds. Boo is tormented and judged due to his younger behavior. "As the Finch children along with their friend Dill waver at the portals of the Radley House on their way to solve the Boo mystery, we again hear the solitary singer" (Matuz 245). Tom is persecuted even though he is blameless, similar to how mockingbirds are killed even though they do no harm. Mr. Underwood later writes an article in which, "He likened Tom's death to the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children, and Maycomb thought he was trying to write an editorial poetical enough to be reprinted in The Montgomery Advertiser" (Lee 254). The mockingbird represents the harassment of Boo and Tom, which plays a big part throughout To Kill A Mockingbird.
This novel focused on the idea that people or things with higher supremacy shouldn't control people or things with less authority. This theme was due in part to the prejudice attitudes of the citizens of Maycomb County. Morality was examined when this realization occurred. The mockingbird was a demonstration that served as a parallel to several characters in To Kill A Mockingbird. The theme of innocent being taken advantage of was related through the novel and teaches the reader to learn and know before he or she judges.