„To Kill a Mockingbird“ by Harper Lee is a classic of American Literature with a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize.
The novel was published in 1960 and was an instant success. It’s not in vain that is widely read in high schools and middle schools across the country.
“Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy… they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
The mockingbird is the personification of:
– innocent children who get to witness the harsh reality around them
– Tom Robinson whose only crime is to be of the wrong color in southerner America around 1933 – 1935
– Boo Radley chose to seclude himself from the community but managed to keep his humanity and sense of righteousness
The story unfolds through the “eyes” of a six-year-old girl, by the name of Jean Louise Finch, who goes by the nickname of Scout. Jean Louise lives with her father, Atticus, a middle-aged lawyer, and her brother, Jem, which is short for Jeremy Finch. Everything takes place in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, the seat of Maycomb County.
Scout and Jem befriend a young boy, Dill, who visits his aunt, Miss Rachel, in Maycomb during the summer. All three seem terrified and fascinated at the same time by their neighbor, the reclusive Boo Radley. They imagine how to get him out of the house, though everybody in town hasn’t seen or heard of Boo in a long time.
Despite being afraid of Boo, Scout and Jem seem to be the object of his affection since they enjoy small gifts left by him in a tree outside of Radley’s place.
The life of the town is no different than that of any community. We find all types of characters, from the ones disrupting the society to the ones trying to save the peace and social life values. We cannot have only good or bad characters; otherwise, how would we know the difference? The thing that separates the characters from one another is their values and their sense of justice, no matter the color of their skin.
Although the book is divided into two parts, the character’s evolution is a little more complicated than that.
The mockingbird state is disrupted by the awful event which shook the town.
Judge Taylor appoints Atticus, Scout’s father to represent Tom Robinson. He is wrongfully accused of having raped a white girl by the name of Mayella Ewell. Mayella comes from a one-parent family. She lives with her father, who is everything but a father figure for Mayella and her brother and sisters.
The truth of the matter is that Mayella make sexual advances toward Tom Robinson, and she got a beating from her father. Despite the fact that Atticus proved Tom’s innocence in the matter, the jury found Tom guilty.
Not being able to take the verdict, Tom tries to escape his imprisonment and gets himself shot in the process.
Even though Scout and Jem are only children, they managed to get inside the courtroom and witness the trial. They are more affected than they thought about the verdict. Their sense of righteousness is shaken when they have explained the way things. The judicial system is in dire need of reform, but as with most reforms, it will be a long process, one that Atticus might not be able to witness.
The trial marks the beginning and the end. For Tom Robinson is the end of freedom and life as he knew it. For Jem, it’s the beginning of adulthood. Atticus revealed another character trait less obvious to his children.
Even though some of the town folks didn’t approve of Atticus’ taking the case, he stood for what he thought to be the right thing to do as a human fellow towards another.
As with all things, change doesn’t come easy. It’s a long and difficult project, more often than not, brought about by a dreadful event. People don’t change as easily and communities even harder. Though change starts with the first person.
During the trial, Mr. Ewell was exposed as being unfit as a parent and community member. His only wish was not to find justice but to find retribution for a failed existence. Since Atticus exposed the bareness of his ways, he vowed revenge and intended to keep his word.
He spits Atticus in the face, threatens Tom Robinson’s wife, and tries to break into Judge Taylor’s house. The peak is his attempt to attack Scout and Jem. The children were heading home from a Halloween school party when they were attacked in the dark by somebody.
The sheriff managed to put two and two together. It was Boo Radley who saved the children and stabbed Mr. Ewell. As far as the sheriff was concerned, the matter was closed. Mr. Ewell stabbed himself to death, falling on his own knife while trying to hurt the children.
The story is a pleasant read, for children and parents alike. Even as adults, the world makes sense again, when the balance is restored, even though, for some, the price to be paid is high.
Atticus’s decision reminds us that righteousness is not something we stand for when times are great but something we fight for when times get rough.
Evy Pompouras, former Secret Service Agent, tells us that only outside of our comfort zone, can we thrive and develop. We stretch the limits of our endurance and our capability of action and understanding, and we become better individuals.
We need events in our life to get us out of our comfort zone, to make us stretch our endurance and strengthen our beliefs or acquire additional ones. Each life event is a learning opportunity, the goal being to become a better individual as a result.