Harper Lee’s “To kill a Mockingbird,” is a very ethic based challenging book, which encounters many ethics from perspective on race to feminism, to bringing up two children as a solo parent. This book follows from a first person perspective as a young girl growing up in the 1930’s in a small very opinion 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, and why her dad is called a “nigger lover,” and why her dad is supposedly letting the family down. Scout has an innocence and 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 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, stepping outside of this boundary and you were seen as not a “white folk,” or not a man. 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 who was an innocent African American who was innocently put under trial for accusedly rapping a 19 year old girl. Scout and her older brother, Jem are so caught up in this being called a “nigger loving family,” at school by young kids who are so brainwashed into these terrible ideas. The children go home to ask what is this term where Atticus responds by saying “trashy people use when they think somebody is favouring negroes over and above themselves…” He gets asked 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 with great ethics like Atticus. We seen the two children get so caught up in why is Tom Robinson being called guilty even though the evidence says not. 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 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. Personally growing up till the age of 13 when you start having a bit more independence you definitely have this mindset that your parents are everything and will only believe what they say hence this is why Atticus is a great role model, especially on our perspective of the text nowadays.
When Scout is out walking the town she commonly gets the stare for not dressing as a women. She is highly pressured and influenced by others like her Auntie to become more feminine, she try going to the kitchen which was a normalised trait that all women had then which was cooking. “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 told things and brainwashed into our head. We see that Scout has been 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 categorised gender was during these time and how 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 on what they want to be. Nowadays personally you can dress how you want and do things how you want without being criticised which is a satisfying feeling to show how far this world has come. For me personally I have seen many friends of mine that have stepped outside this barrier seen in the 1930’s where one of my long time friends from a different town 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 maybe are afraid to step outside of these boundaries as they may be labelled something that they are embarrassed of. In the world we see today although these boundaries have been broken down, negative labels has become as common as white folk calling African American’s “niggers,” during the time of this time period. These labels in today’s society I believe have similarities to the categories 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 their 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. The court case had finished and Atticus had placed a call on Mayella (the assault victims) dad (Bob Ewell) as all the evidence point towards him. Everyone knew he was guilty but it’s so normal just to protect the white person during this time, No-one was willing to step outside this and break this injustice. Except Atticus who gave Bob Ewell this fear and bad name for himself. This section taught me a lot about guilty people from a hard crime to telling a wanted kept secret of someone’s. That they always have 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 he realises Bob is only trying to take it out on someone. This shows how good it ended up this being dumped on Atticus as most people especially in today’s society to take something serious like this. This quote shows how clever he is being able to read situations as we can clearly tell that Bob has a killing caliber. This role model scene has definitely been throughout my life not even on their words but their actions. For example a guy a few years older me, when I was in yr 11 really showed me what a good, hard working, deserving person is and just influenced 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 it but after a while I noticed this change I had all of a sudden had. I have also come across the situation where something has been taken out on me. The person who does it I know does have things negatively said about him, so therefore when he goes to take it out I am able to take it. It taught me that it is sometimes good to be the one who has people 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 not only was pleasing to read as 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 is society have yet to been fixed.