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“To Kill a Mockingbird” Example Essay

Introduction

“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee was originally published in 1960 and since then, it has been widely read and has provided vital lessons to society. The central issues and themes discussed in the novel are relevant to the contemporary society in spite of it being set in the fictional American town of Maycomb in the 1930s. The issues are prevalent in society today and are applicable to how humans coexist. It could be said that Harper had foreseen what the 21st Century world would be like through the novel. Indeed, “To Kill a Mockingbird” teaches society through its themes of morality, good versus evil, racism, and education.

Throughout the story, a strong sense of morality is displayed continuously through Atticus Finch, one of the characters. This character also helps in establishing a moral code for Scout and Jem, two other characters who act as his children. Finch emphasizes throughout the novel that one should not judge another person by appearance and should not pass judgments against others if they are not aware of their situations. He rhetorically but wisely asks his children, “Are you proud of yourself tonight that you have insulted a total stranger whose circumstances you know nothing about?” (Lee, 2014). Here, he is admonishing the children for damaging flowers belonging to their neighbor even though they do not know her situation in life. He emphasizes to them that they should be more considerate and should not be judgmental in how they treat others. He further tells Scout that “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” (Lee, 2014).

The theme of good versus evil is also constantly present throughout the novel through various characters. As it begins, the story presents Scout and Jem as having childhood innocence as they believe that everyone is inherently good. However, they start encountering evil in the form of racism, ignorance, and hatred as the story progresses. It is through their father Finch that they are able to navigate their new world and develop an understanding that not everyone is inherently all evil or all good. As Finch well notes about people, “They’ve done it before and they’ll do it again and when they do it — seems that only the children weep” (Lee, 2014). Here, he is saying that only children care about the injustice that is meted out on a man, Tom Robinson, who is falsely accused of rape. He also laments that “The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box” (Lee, 2014).

Additionally, there is blatant prejudice and racism in the story as practiced by the residents of Maycomb. This is most evident in the story’s major incident where the Maycomb society falsely accuses Tom Robinson, an African American, of raping a white woman. The wrath of the racism from the community is also felt by the Finch family because Atticus Finch agrees to be Robinson’s attorney. Finch decries the existence of racism in law courts and in society at large. He says, “In our courts, when it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s, the white man always wins” (Lee, 2014). He however believes that whenever a white man mistreats a black man, “…no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash” (Lee, 2014).

Finally, “To Kill a Mockingbird” drives home the important theme of education. There is much to be desired in Maycomb’s education system even as Scout starts her first year in school as the story begins. She has been taught to read and write by Finch back at home and she thus is ahead of her classmates. Normally, such a student should be hailed by her teachers. Surprisingly though, Scout is punished by her teacher who goes on to tell her that she should not learn anything more at home because her father does not know the proper way she should be taught (Lee, 2014). This shows that in Maycomb, there is a clear conflict between education at home and institutionalized education. Apparently, the “right” education, as per this society, is only the one offered at school.

Conclusion

“To Kill a Mockingbird” provides invaluable lessons to society through its various themes as discussed herein. It explores how society is affected by morality, good versus evil, racism, and education. It points out that people are always quick to judge others from outward appearance. It also observes that the human race is plagued by such evil as hatred and ignorance and that not everyone may be good or bad. The story additionally touches on racism, a societal evil that is still persistent in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world to-date. Further, it teaches that a student can acquire basic educational knowledge at home if there is someone to help them achieve that.

References

Lee, H. (2014). To Kill a Mockingbird (Enhanced Edition). New York, NY: Harper Collins.

 

“To Kill a Mockingbird” Essay Outline

Introduction

Thesis:

“To Kill a Mockingbird” teaches society through its themes of morality, good versus evil, racism, and education.

Body

Paragraph 1:

Throughout the story, a strong sense of morality is displayed continuously through Atticus Finch, one of the characters.

  • He helps in establishing a moral code for Scout and Jem, his children.
  • He emphasizes that one should not judge another person by appearance and should not pass judgments against others if they are not aware of their situations.
  • He admonishes his children for damaging flowers belonging to their neighbor even though they do not know her situation in life.

Paragraph 2:

The theme of good versus evil is constantly present throughout the novel through various characters.

  • As it begins, the story presents Scout and Jem as having childhood innocence as they believe that everyone is inherently good.
  • However, they start encountering evil in the form of racism, ignorance, and hatred as the story progresses.
  • Through their father, they are able to navigate their new world and understand that not everyone is inherently all evil or all good.

Paragraph 3:  

There is blatant prejudice and racism in the story as practiced by the residents of Maycomb.

  • The Maycomb society falsely accuses Tom Robinson, an African American, of raping a white woman.
  • The wrath of the racism from the community is also felt by the Finch family because Atticus Finch agrees to be Robinson’s attorney.
  • Finch decries the existence of racism in law courts and in society at large.

Paragraph 4:

The story drives home the important theme of education.

  • There is much to be desired in Maycomb’s education system even as Scout starts her first year in school as the story begins.
  • She has been taught to read and write by Finch back at home and she thus is ahead of her classmates.
  • She is punished by her teacher who tells her that she should not learn anything more at home because her father does not know how she should be taught.

Conclusion

“To Kill a Mockingbird” provides invaluable lessons to society through its various themes as discussed herein. It explores how society is affected by morality, good versus evil, racism, and education.

 

 

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