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To Kill a Mockingbird

Novel by Harper Lee
by

Ming Li Goldston

on 5 June 2013

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Transcript of To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a
Mockingbird
A Novel by Harper Lee

Presented by
Ming Li Goldston Symbolism Theme: The Coexistence of
Good and Evil Historical and Settings Significance Can people truly have both good and evil in them? Jean Louise
"Scout" Finch: Growth Harper Lee's words carry a lot of symbolism that they weave through the ever important morals of the story. One great example of this symbolism in this story of loss of innocence is the mockingbird. This lovely songbird is the embodiment of the innocence of many characters in the story. Just as Tom Robinson and Boo Radley are examples of mockingbirds, they also help prove the novel's theme of the coexistence of good and evil, which comes from loss of innocence, because it is the understanding and acceptance of the balance that needs
to be kept within every person. "That's what I thought, too, when I was your age. If there's
just one kind of folks, why can't they get along with each other? If they're all alike, why do they go out of their
way to despise each other?" (227) Taking place in the 1930's meant the novel was during this nation's recovery from the most debilitating and demoralizing recession, the Great Depression. Many things were different with society back then than there are now,
and they highly effected the events
that took place. Several places within the novel reflected
the thoughts of society in that time period, as
well as having significance to the theme of the story. I
thought The Radley house was an embodiment of Scout
and Jem's youthful curiosity. They feared the dangers that were attached by rumor to the house, and even speculated on what it's inhabitant was like. However, as the story progressed and the settings in Maycomb Country expanded, more of the reality was seen as examples of the balance inner evils and goodness. Mrs. Dubose's house was an embodiment of cruelty and prejudice that rested in the hearts of many people in the South.





However, it was the fact that Mrs. Dubose was an old and sick
woman who fought her illness with all her strength until the
very end, bringing her Atticus' praise for her real
determination and courage, a virtue to be
respected in his eyes, that truly impacted
Scout and Jem. "Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley
porch was enough." (279) Scout and Jem Finch Scout and Jem are both examples of the many mockingbirds in this novel because they start it as children. Through their innocent eyes the world is untouched by evil. However, as the story progresses,
they face those evils as the racism and prejudice of their peers and neighbors, and face the cruelty in the hearts of men when Bob Ewell tried to kill them. Though the children do lose their innocence, simply because they have matured and grown, it was
still important for them to understand the evil
in the world. The Mockingbird I see the mockingbird as a symbol of innocence, and in the character's case, it's destruction. Just as it is wrong to take advantage of and hurt other people, it is especially so in the case of the defenseless and innocent; those who can not stand up for themselves,
or who do not know right from wrong. So "killing a
mockingbird" would literally be destroying the
innocent, and that is why it is a sin. "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." (90) Tom Robinson
and Boo Radley Tom Robinson and Boo Radley are also examples of mockingbirds, that, unlike Scout and Jem, were "destroyed" by the evils they faced. Tom Robinson was charged with rape, a crime he did not commit, yet was convicted as guilty because he was a black man in an all white, rasict jury. Boo Radley, however, was already made out to be some kind of monster in society, and became lonely and reclusive. Both Tom and Boo ended up "destroyed" by their society.




Tom's death, being compared to the "slaughter of songbirds" proves how the evils of others can drive another person to their death. For Boo, having been reclusive and unskilled in a social setting, would
be "destroyed" by the publicity of having saved Scout and Jem,
which is why they allowed Heck Tate to cover things up
to protect him lest it be like killing a mockingbird. "He likened Tom's death to the senseless slaughter of songbirds..." (241)

"Well, it'd be sort of like shootin' a mockingbird, wouldn't it?" (276) I believe that the theme of the story rests in the hands of Atticus,
who is Scout and Jem's moral teacher. Even when defending Tom Robinson or simply giving his children moral advice, he expresses
his experience and understanding of evil without losing faith in
inner goodness. He knows that people have both good and
bad things about them, and that one must simply learn to appreciate the good while sympathizing with the bad
and try to "climb into their skin" and see things
from their point of view. Tom and Boo are both innocent in
their own rights, but are made victims of the evil the face. Thoughts on racism are put before honesty and moral even in the courtroom, where all men are supposedly equal, and were ultimately the cause of an innocent man's death. Prejudice towards someone just because they were different ruined a boy's social understanding,
and followed him into adulthood. Acceptance and
Understanding "And I thought to myself, well, we're making a step - it's just a baby-step, but it's a step." (216) As for the economics of
the Great Depression, times were
tough and most families were left very
poor. However, on the civil side of things, there remained social hierarchies and a strong belief in the importance of one's family history. Also, since the end of the
Civil War and slavery, the South has had prejudice and mistreated their black community, clinging to the thoughts
of inequality between the races. As we grow and transition from the innocent perspective of a child to an adult world with adult problems, we have to come to face evil eventually. However, if we make changes little by little in the ways we used to think or act, and try to turn something bad into something good by understanding and trying to coexist with inner evil by appreciating and sharing inner goodness, we will
not be unprepared for what there is to face
in our world. Then, loss of innocence
cannot destroy us. "I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what." (112) "You haven't even seen this town,
but all you gotta do is step back inside that courthouse. (201) Finally, one of the most important and pinnacle moments of impact
during this story was at the courthouse, where Scout and Jem saw up close
and personal what was in the hearts and minds of the citizens of their already
dimming idea of Maycomb's "perfect" world. There they were exposed to greater
social prejudices and racism, and because of their innocence, were utterly shaken
by what had occurred. Confused as to why their community could convict a man on
such evidence, the verdict was crushing, especially to Jem, who couldn't understanding why what was right wasn't done. Scout, on the other hand, strongly shared Atticus' beliefs of goodness in people, and wasn't as fazed as her brother. Nonetheless, the children had to come to terms with those social evils. However, as Miss Maudie had pointed out to the children: the jury had stayed out long, an obvious sign of having being affected by Atticus' word, rather than just convicting Tom immediately. Even Atticus let Scout and Jem know that one man, a Cunningham actually, even considered outright acquitting Tom at first. Despite the racism of the time, there still remained hope for a change to come. In my opinion, Scout is the character who has grown the most
throughout the novel. She started off as a tough, tomboyish little
girl who has a hard time grasping Atticus' moral lessons at first.
Instead, she fought when she was distressed and was very outspoken. Nonetheless, she was still an innocent child who feared Boo in the beginning or was confused by her first experiences with evil. However, her maturing from her initial childhood innocence through her experiences were enough to give her a new view of the world yet still maintain the faith in human goodness that she shared with Atticus. She was finally able to learn her father's moral lessons, such as being able to step into someone else's shoes and see things from their perspective. That was how she finally understood Boo after walking home. It
took all of her experiences those last few summers, and the
aftermath of the trial in particular for her to mature, and
according to Scout, learn everything except for algebra.
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