To Kill A Mockingbird: Prejudice
The Main theme in this book is prejudice. You will learn about
segregation and how unfair it was.
To Kill A Mocking Bird deals with many primal and basic lessons in human
nature. The book exposes many issues that affect most people throughout their
lives. Scout, the main character was one of the most affected by these lessons.
During the book she was exposed to many profound experiences, which no doubt
will leave a lasting impression. In the three years that the book took place,
she may have learned the most important things she will learn over her entire
One person that affected Scouts life was Boo Radley. He brought wonder,
fear and then finally relief to her heart. At first kids thought he was evil.
There were rumours that while he cut out the newspaper for his scrap book he
“drove the scissors into his parent’s leg.”(pg11) He had tried to kill them.
Even though this may have been just a rumor the kids were terrified of the
Radleys. They described him often as a monster “six-and-a-half feet tall” with
“bloodstained” hands. He was said to eat “raw squirrels and any cats he could
catch”.(pg12) During the rest of the book Scout and companions tried to meet
Arthur (Boo) and get over their fear of him. They did not succeed. But he showed
affection for them by leaving them gifts in a tree. Finally at the end of the
book he proves he is a good person by saving Scout and Jem’s lives. In this
instance Scout may have found that to negatively prejudge someone is wrong. She
also learned compassion.
Scout also learnt about the ugliness of life. About death and pain.
This lesson occurred while her brother had to read to a sick and dieing old lady.
This lady’s name was Mrs. Dubose. She had been a morphine addict and had decided
to go clean till her death. To die as a free women, to die knowing she had won.
Scout describes her as a ugly lady and during their reading sessions she would
have some kind of spasm-fits. Her head moved side to side. She would drool. “Her
mouth seemed to have a private existence of it’s own.” (pg.107) After many
reading sessions with her having a fit each time, she died one day.
Probably the most important person in Scout’s life was the one who had
set the best examples for her. This was Atticus. He taught Scout how to deal
with people. One of his teachings was to be the bigger person. When Bob Ewell
spit in Atticus’s face and threatened his life, he did nothing and walked away.
All he had to say later was,”I wish Bob Ewell wouldn’t chew tobacco.”(pg.217)
Atticus reacts with his brain not emotions. He encourages Scout to do the same.
Another trait that he teaches is respect. Respect for people who are
different. People such as Boo Radley. The kids had been acting out a play which
involved Boo’s scissor incident. They also tried to give a letter to him, so
that he would come out to meet them. Atticus found out about both incidents.
They were put in their place and told to, “stop tormenting that man.” He then
told them that, “what Mr.Radley did was his own business.”(pg.49) Atticus also
commanded respect for black people. He once told Jem that if a white man cheats
a black man, “no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes
from, that man is trash.”(pg.220) At the trial he also explained that there are
bad and good black men as there are good and bad white men.(pg.204)
Two more models that helped Scout out. The first was a valuable example
set by Atticus. He had been told to defend Tom Robinson. The case was a lost
cause because he was beat before he began, and itwould bring hardship to
himself and his family. He knew this, but did not give up. It was the right
thing to do. As he told his brother, “do you think I could face my children
otherwise”(pg.88) Scout heard this conversation and understood it in later years.
Again teaching this gives her a valuable example; Stick to what you believe in.
A lesson in effort and commitment was also demonstrated by Mrs. Dubose. After
finding out that she would soon die, she decided to kick the morphine. This was
a very hard thing for her or for that matter anyone to do. “She was the bravest
person I knew.” said Atticus. He also again repeated that courage is when, “you
know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway”.(pg.112) This is in
fact a mirror image example of what he was doing by taking on the Robinson case.
And finally not so much a lesson but a warning for Scout. The warning
comes from Boo Radley, a man who keeps away from society as he seems to fear it.
His life is a perfect testimony for all the bad and ugliness of our world. As
Jem said best. “I think I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley stayed shut
up in the house all this time……It’s because he wants to stay inside.”
It become apparent that the things that Scout has learned are all very
important. Some maybe the most important during her lifetime. This is why these
may have been some of the most important years of here life. And that all the
experiences that she went though were essential.