To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee seems like a complete replica of the lives of people living in a small Southern U.S. town. The themes expressed in this novel are as relevant today as when this novel was written, and also the most significant literary devices used by Lee. The novel brings forward many important themes, such as the importance of education, recognition of inner courage, and the misfortunes of prejudice. This novel was written in the 1930s. This was the period of the “Great Depression” when it was very common to see people without jobs, homes and food. In those days, the rivalry between the whites and the blacks deepened even more due to the competition for the few available jobs. A very famous court case at that time was the Scottsboro trials. These trials were based on the accusation against nine black men for raping two white women. These trials began on March 25, 1931. The Scottsboro trials were very similar to Tom Robinson’s trial. The similarities include the time factor and also the fact that in both cases, white women accused black men.
We learn how important it is to Atticus for his children to be educated. We see how he teaches them to read and write at an early age. “As it is in a black man’s account of slavery, reading and writing are major themes in To Kill a Mockingbird. Reading is first introduced with Dill’s announcement that he can read, and Jem’s counter boast that his sister, Scout, has been reading for years” (Telgen 301). Atticus reads to the children from newspapers and magazines as if they are adults who can understand issues at his level. By the time Scout attends her first day of school, she is highly literate, far surpassing the other children in the classroom and frustrating her teacher whose task it is to teach her students according to a predetermined plan. It soon becomes clear why Atticus thinks education is so important. During his closing arguments, Atticus explicitly acknowledges the ignorance blinding people's minds and hearts:
The witnesses for the state…have presented themselves to you gentlemen…in the cynical confidence that their testimony would not be doubted, confident that you gentlemen would go along with them on the …evil assumption…that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are
basically immoral beings, that all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women, an assu...
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...Walt Whitman’s Alabama birds, Harper Lee’s Alabama presents a bleak picture of a narrow world torn by hatred , injustice, violence and cruelty, and we lament to see ‘what man has made of man’. It brings out forcefully the condition of Negro subculture in the white world where a Negro, as dark as a mockingbird, is accepted largely as a servant or at best as an entertainer (Dave 245).
In conclusion, there are various themes in the book. The theme of education is evident from the beginning to the end of the novel. Atticus Finch stresses the need for education to his children and also to the people of Maycomb during the trial of Tom Robinson. The theme of courage is also an important part of this novel. The children learn from Atticus and Mrs. Dubose that courage and strength are not necessarily physical, but actually they are present in the hearts and minds of people. The theme of prejudice is present throughout the novel in the first part against Boo Radley and in the second part in the form of racism against Tom Robinson. The understanding of prejudice helps the children change from childhood innocence to a point of maturity and acceptance of people who are different from them.
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