Harper Lee’s “To kill a Mockingbird,” is a challenging book, which encounters many different perspectives on race, feminism, and bringing up two children as a solo parent. This book is told from a first person perspective by a young girl growing up in the 1930’s in a small very opinionated based American town. This book follows the life of Scout who has all sorts of fantasies and question of her neighbour who never came out of his house, why her dad is called a “nigger lover,” and why her dad is supposedly letting the family down. Scout had no knowledge of the divided world she lived in where it was divided between race, gender and justice.
The novel itself confronts many ideas that we as a society are becoming much more aware about nowadays. If you were to take a kid like me nowadays and be placed in the 1930’s it would be unheard of personally some of the slang and rude terrible words that were said during this time period. Not only that but these words were deemed as normal. If you thought these were rude however you were seen as not a “white folk,” or not a man, you were seen as a “nigger lover.” A common issue that is spread throughout the novel is racism. Scout’s family was commonly criticised about how Atticus (Scout’s father) was acting as a lawyer for Tom Robinson. Tom Robinson was an innocent African American man who was put under trial for accusedly rapping a 19 year old girl. Scout and her older brother Jem, are so confused what it means to be called a “nigger loving family.” They were told this at school by young kids who are so brainwashed into these terrible ideas by their own parents. Scout and Jem go home one day upset and ask what is this term “nigger lover.” Atticus responds by saying “trashy people use when they think somebody is favouring negroes over and above themselves.” He gets asked by his children if he therefore is one, where he says “I certainly am. I do my best to love everybody.” This book shows the impact it has on young kids life having a good role model surrounding you with great ethics like Atticus. Having this influence on you when you were young definitely from the communities perspective would have been something frowned upon. Although I believe having this role model around you definitely during those times would have made you a better person in the future. I believe the way Atticus cleverly used words like ‘trashy’ and ‘certainly’ would have a significant impact on the kids as these emotive words would influence them and give them an understanding that saying these things are bad. Personally I believe until the age of around 12 when you start having a bit more independence in your life. I definitely had this mindset that your parents are everything and I would only believe what they say. Hence showing why Atticus is a great role model, especially on our perspective of the text nowadays, as he will pass on these good ethics once his children become more worried about what their friends have to say.
When Scout is out walking the town she commonly gets stared at for not dressing as a women. She is highly pressured and influenced by others like her Auntie to become more feminine. For example she tries going to the kitchen which was a normalised activity that all women did. “Calpurnia seemed glad to see me when I appeared in the kitchen, and by watching her I began to think there was some skill involved in being a girl.” This quote shows she has grown up with no mother figure and has been very much influence by her dad and father into doing ‘boyish things.’ This quote shows how easily young kids are influenced with words brainwashed into our head. Scout is commonly told it is easy to be a woman but it becomes quite a shock to her when she finds out there is “some skill involved.” As a reader I learned how genders were categorised during these times, as the females stayed home doing the cleaning and cooking and the men set off for work. Its unpleasing to see how judged a young girl is just being themselves. Nowadays personally you can dress how you want and do things how you want without being criticised which is a satisfying feeling personally showing how far society has come. For me personally I have seen many friends of mine that have stepped outside this barrier seen in the 1930’s. For example one of my long time friends who is a boy now loves baking cakes, or my friends mum now works for a high performance snow sports team. Its people like this who are role models to others who are afraid to step outside of these boundaries. In the world we see today although categorising genders has been pretty much abolished, negative labels have become very common, for example like calling someone a freak, or fat. These labels in today’s society I believe have similarities to gender categorisation and can have huge impacts on people’s life knowing they are so called ‘different,’ just like Scout felt during that time period.
Lastly as previously mentioned Atticus has a huge influence on his children and the people around in him. We can definitely see what a great role model he is, putting himself in front to protect others like Tom Robinson. The court case had finished and Atticus had placed accusations on Mayella (the assault victims) father, Bob Ewell as all the evidence point towards him. Everyone knew he was guilty but it was normal to protect the white person during this time, No-one was willing to say it wasn’t right and break this injustice. Only Atticus did this, where Bob Ewell gained this fear and bad name for himself. This section taught me a lot about guilty people who committed a serious crime. As always people with rage want to get revenge, just to make them feel good about themselves. Atticus was the victim of Bob Ewell’s revenge where Atticus said calmly “The man had to have some kind of comeback, his kind always does. So if spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that’s something I’ll gladly take. He had to take it out on somebody and I’d rather it be me than that houseful of children out there. ” This shows the type of person Atticus is and we can see this beneficially rub off into Scout throughout the book. The threat was to kill Atticus but Atticus realises Bob is only trying to take his anger out on someone. This anger being thrown at Atticus is lucky as he is a level headed character. Most people especially in today’s society would take something serious like this, or maybe fight back. This quote shows how clever Atticus as he can read situations. Role model’s are throughout my life where their “actions speak louder then their words.” For example a guy a few years older me, when I was in yr 11 he really showed me what a good, hard working, deserving person is influencing me to try harder and ultimately be like him. Having a person like this in your life is key, at the start like Scout I did not recognise he was one of my many role models but after a while I noticed this positive attitude I had all of a sudden towards school, sports etc. I have also come across situations where someone’s anger has been taken out on me. The person who does it I know does have things negatively said about him, so therefore when gets angry I am able to take it. It taught me that it is sometimes good to be the one who has people’s anger taken out on as it teaches you a lesson about society and the type of person they are.
Overall I highly recommend “To kill a mockingbird,” as at first I thought this book wouldn’t be something I was into but after a few pages I was hooked. It was pleasing to read and I was able to relate to aspects throughout the text like have these childhood fantasies for example I thought my neighbours house was “the monster house,” which was a childhood film I used to love growing up. Also we are presented common issues and are challenged as a reader to ask ourselves if these terrible issues are still within todays society.