The most important theme of the 1960 Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird is author Harper Lee’s tenacious exploration of the moral nature of people. Lee tenaciously explores the moral nature of human beings, especially the struggle in every human soul between discrimination and tolerance. The novel is very effective in not only revealing prejudice, but in examining the nature of prejudice, how it works, and its consequences. One of the ways it accomplishes this is by dramatizing the main characters’, Scout and Jem’s, maturing transition from a perspective of childhood innocence. Initially, because they have never seen or experienced evil themselves, they assume that all people are good by nature and tolerant of others. It is not until they see things from a more realistic adult perspective that they are able to confront evil, as well as prejudice, and incorporate it into their understanding of the world (Castleman).
As a result of this skillful literary portrayal by Harper Lee of the psychological transition from innocence to experience to realization, To Kill a Mockingbird succeeds admirably in portraying the very real threat that hatred, prejudice, and ignorance have always posed to the innocent. Simple, trusting, good-hearted characters such as Tom Robinson and Boo Radley are tragically unprepared. They are ill-equipped emotionally and psychologically to deal with the unexpected depths of the prejudice they encounter -- and as a result, they are destroyed. Even Jem is victimized to a certain extent by his discovery of the evil of prejudice and its hidden power over so many people during and after the controversial trial (Bergman and ...
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... to view the world from his perspective ensures that she will not become jaded as she loses her innocence.
In conclusion, in To Kill a Mockingbird, author Harper Lee tenaciously explores the moral nature of human beings, especially the struggle in every human soul between discrimination and tolerance. The novel is very effective in not only revealing prejudice, but in examining the nature of prejudice, how it works, and its consequences.
Bergman, Paul, and Asimow, Michael. Reel Justice. New York: Andrews and McMeel, 1996.
Castleman, Tamara. Cliffsnotes’ Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Cliffsnotes, 2000.
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Harper Collins, 1999.
To Kill a Mockingbird. Dir. Robert Mulligan. Perf. Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, Crahan Denton, Philip Alford. Universal-International, 1962.
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