Thursday, 12 July 2012

To Kill A Mocking Bird

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English Coursework To killl a mocking bird

Question- Prejudice and courage are powerful themes in To kill a mocking bird. Show how Harper Lee deals with them in her novel.

The author of this well aclaimed book, Harper Lee was born in nineteen twenty six in Monroeville in Alabama. In this aspect she is similar to Scout, also in addition, Harpers father was also a lawyer. To kill a mocking bird was written in the nineteen sixties just at the beginning of the black civil rights movement. However, the novel is set around the nineteen thirties. This was the time when Alabama was at the peak of racial tension, thus most events in the book could have been from real experiences.

This novel contains many differents aspects of life at that time. To kill a mocking bird is not just a story of racism; it is a story of childhood, lessons in life, diplomacy, respect, prejudice and courage. When read, it proves how much the world has changed. It still discriminates eg. women still have less power than men and unfortunately some people are still racist, but things have changed for the better.

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Slavery was abolished about one hundred years ago today. Slaves were treated with no respect at all, like animals. They worked to the bone with no pay just because of the colour of their skin. Black people were shipped along the seas to serve the British or Americans. Although slavery was abolished by the nineteen thirties, black people were still considered as second class citizens compared to white people. Blacks and whites were very much segregated from each other. Seperate churches and even seperate toilets were made for each race. At that time, white people always overpowered black people. This obviously meant there was much prejudice between each race and this lead to many injustices for black people. To kill a mocking bird only tells one of many stories.

In this well-written novel prejudice is shown in many ways; though primarily through racism. Courage also plays a very important role in the story. There are different types of courage. For instance, basic courage like when the children ran past the Radley place and moral courage which Scout has to find in order to face her friends without retaliating, when they call her father names.The most difficult form of courage to possess is the courage to take on and carry through a task which is cetain to end in failure. When Atticus takes on the Tom Robinson case. He knew he wouldnt win because of the colour of his clients skin but he went ahead with it any way.

When Scout asked why hes defending a negro, he replied

For a number of reasons. The main one is, if i didnt i couldnt hold my head up in town, i coudnt represent this county in the legislature, i coudnt even tell you or Jem not to do something again.

At this point, Atticus mixed his courage with his own principle of pride. Unfortunately, not many in Maycomb held this point of view.

Not only does Atticus suffer from verbal and physical abuse so do the children. Courage is shown when Scouts tried to fight off Cecil Jacobs because he called Scouts father a nigger defender. Not even knowing what that means Scout was putting her fists up but then resisted remembering what she had promised her father about not fighting. So prejudice is also shown here against the Finch family because Atticus defends a negro in court.

Prejudice is shown in chapter two when Scout first goes to school. The teacher realises Scout is more advanced than anyone else in the class due to the fact that Scout reads at home. She told Scout to stop reading at home because her father does not know how to teach.

Now tell your father not to teach you anymore. Its best to begin reading with a fresh mind. You tell him ill take over from here and try to undo the damage.

She was quite angry at Scout because it did not fit in with the education system.

Courage is shown when the children ran past the Radley place. Jems trousers got caught in the fence when he was trying to escape because the children heard gunshots. More courage is shown when Jem ran back to the fence to get the trousers back and then found out they had been folded and fixed. This was Boo Radleys gesture.

Atticus Finch later shows more courage when he shoots the mad dog in chapter ten. The children are very surprised and happy in a way because they thought he couldnt do anything.

All of a sudden he just relaxed all over, an it looked like that gun was a part of him . . . an he did it so quick like . . . I hafta aim for ten minutes fore i can hit something . . .

They were very proud of him and suddenly changed their tune about their father.

Mrs. Dubose passes away in chapter eleven. In a way the children are happy because they do not have to read to her anymore. They showed prejudice against here because she was rude about them and their father but only because they didnt know what she was going through. When Atticus explains to them that,

I wanted you to see something about her- 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. Its when you know youre licked before you begin but you begin anyway.

This is another one of Atticus lessons of life for his children. He tries to explain that Mrs. Dubose showed an enormous amount of courage. She knew she was to die soon but didnt want to die beholden to nothing and nobody. She didnt want to die a prisoner to morphine. She was in such great pain but stuck to her pride and refused to die addicted to morphine. The children soon realise things from her piont of view and still have their own judgement of her but it is slightly triggered.

Prejudice is shown another time when Calpurnia decides to take the children to church with her. She wanted the children to see how Tom Robinson was respected in his own community. But in the church the children received some hostility from one member, Lula.

You aint got no business bringin white chillun here- they got thier own church, aint it Miss Cal? They were unfairly judged just because of the colour of their like many at that time. But fortunately Lula was the only one that received them in that way; the rest of the church accepted them in a very welcoming manner, as the children of the well-respected Mr. Finch.

Mr. Finch shows courage in chapter fifteen when he guards Tom Robinsons prison cell because of knowledge that the Lynch mob will try to kill Tom that night.

You know what we want. Get aside from the door Mr. Finch. a member of the lynch mob said.

Atticus replied, You can turn around and go home again, Walter.

That wasnt easy to say to about five men that were about to kill someone.

In chapter twenty one, the trial finishes with a verdict. Tom Robinson is seen as guilty. This verdict is influenced by prejudice. It is obvious Tom Robinson is not guilty but the society doesnt allow Tom Robinson to be freed because he is black. In a community where no matter how poor, how unmannered and even how stupid a person is; white people were ALWAYS considered better than black. Tom Robinson was obviously not guilty but one of the main reasons is that Mayellawas hit on the right side of her face. A right handed person would naturally hit a person on the left part of their face and Tom Robinson only has a right arm. Bob Ewell stupidly reveals he is left handed unaware that this would now play a big part in the trial.

Aunt Alexandra has her own point of view on things. She is very opinionated. She shows prejudice against Calpurnia because she is black and she thinks it is not right for a black woman to raise white children. She also thinks she cant raise them properly but doesnt realise how much the children love Cal like a mother and how much she loves them like her own children. The women of Maycomb show prejudice against black people at one of their tea parties. They talk with great sympathy of the Mrunas (an African tribe) but thenshow thier disgust to Atticus defending a negro. They failed to understand why he would want to defend Tom Robinson.

In chapter twenty three, Bob Ewell discriminates over Atticus by spitting on his face. He did this because Atticus defended his enemy, the defendant in Bobs lie.

Boo Radley was shown prejudice by many people in Maycomb, especially the children. Because of his past, they thought he wanted to harm everyone. That he was very angry inside and they even had thier own interpretations on how he looked.

Jem said he was, There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time but they ve never seen him before!

From what I have written in the above, prejudice and courage play a very big role in the well-written novel To kill a mocking bird. The discrimination of black people outlines the prejudice portrayed in the book. In the due course of seventy years, we have been enabled to see the dramatic change in the world. We are all taught that we should not only judge people because of the colour of their skin, their backround or intelligence. We should assess people by thier views and opinions of the world around us. We should only judge people because of their personalities. It is such a disgrace how white people treated black people and sometimes vice versa. People refused the fact that we are all the same colour when we turn out the light, and it is such a shame that society still uses prejudice in our lives; how people who have comitted a crime and have a criminal record are considered different and have less chance of getting a job. But we have ALL comitted a crime in our lives but not all of us suffer the same consequences.

Harper Lee includes courage and prejudice in an almost innocent way . She tries and successfully gets through the innocent message that courage and prejudice are a part of life, not matter how different a life backround is. She includes courage and prejudice through the children and reveals to us the way parents handle it with their children. To kill a mocking bird is by far an outstanding novel, thoughtfully and beautifully written.

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