Essay on The Sin in Ideology

Essay on The Sin in Ideology

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“I’d rather you shoot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird”(90). Atticus Finch, a guide mentor of the novel, explains this to his children after they are gifted with air rifles for Christmas. Notably, the title of this American classic, To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, is taken from a seemingly insignificant excerpt. However, if read carefully, the reader begins to understand that this is just one other example out of a plethora of symbolism. Set in a Depression-era Southern town, Lee features various themes, though the novel focuses on various forms of prejudice. It brings forth the idea that prejudice, in any form is a sin. By delving into a variety of literary techniques, Lee’s theme of prejudice in the form of racism is used to communicate the negative fallout of ideology. This can especially be studied through examples from the novel, including the actions and thoughts of Atticus Finch’s children, through the actions of racist whites, and though the beliefs and actions of Atticus himself.
Lee takes advantage of the actions of the children in the novel to contribute heavily to symbolism. An early instance of this can be seen when Jem and Scout build a snowman during the winter. Not able to find enough snow to cover the snowman, Jem gives it a foundation of dirt, and then proceeds to cover it with whatever snow they had. This action in itself is symbolic and can be interpreted in two different ways. In one way, it is symbolic of Jem attempting to cover the black (snow) man, making him into a white (snow) man, conveying the message that, in reality, all human beings are the same. This is confirmed w...


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... them. He is a role model to his children, ensuring that they will one day follow his footsteps. Therefore, the actions of Jem and Scout Finch further enhance Lee’s symbolism. The literary technique that Lee writes with makes the novel’s themes pertinent and influential. The theme of racism being result of a negative fallout of ideology is conveyed from the beginning of the novel to its very end. Atticus reads to Scout, The Gray Ghost. This bedtime story is described by Scout Finch as a story of a boy who is chased by other men but never caught because “they didn’t know what he looked like”(281). Scout then says, “when they finally saw him, why he hadn’t done any of those things…Atticus, he was real nice”(281). And Harper Lee proceeds to providing the reader with her final closing argument by Atticus stating plainly, “Most people are when you finally see them”(281).

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