To Kill A Mockingbird To Kill A Mocking Bird, a term one uses to describe many things, such as a defining moment or an object such as a book. When used in this context, such as describing a book, it persuades the reader to examine the novel further to discover what makes this piece of literature so memorable to people who have read it. One such novel is Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. One may describe this novel as a classic because the messages described in the novel can be perceived on so many different levels that any reader, no matter the level, can observe these messages. The prime messages observed in this novel is that of racism, how the actions of a community, not just a parent, can affect a child, and how rumors and invalidated facts can destroy anyone’s reputation.
Racism is mentioned throughout the second part of the novel. It is the prime and most mentioned part of this section of the novel. This message is displayed on many levels so even the lowest level reader can visibly ask oneself why this is occurring. The easiest way to observe this may be the town’s actions toward Tom Robinson, the “negro” on trial. The townspeople, for the most part, dismissed the entire trial on the basis on that it does not matter what Atticus can do, Mr.
Robinson is automatically guilty. This message can also be seen in a severely symbolic manner, Tom Robinson’s death. The manner in which he dies is that he escapes and attempts to climb the fence to freedom, however he only has one good arm and that is his detriment. It slows him up enough to allow the police to shoot him numerous times. Symbolically this can be viewed as a glimmer of hope to end this suppression. As this glimmer of hope is about to reach the mainstream and acceptance that racism is evil, it is shot down and dead, thus ending the opportunity.
Mr. Robinson got into this position by the jury giving in a guilty verdict, despite numerous evidence to the contrary. The jury gave a racist verdict, showing Harper Lee’s opinion of the evil a racist society can do to a minority. This verdict had repercussions not just to Mr. Robinson, but to the community. One can observe that this verdict influenced the town in a manner no one expected, it twisted the minds of many children.
A popular saying is that “the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray,” this is what began to happen to the children of the town, best viewed when observing the Finch children. Despite Atticus’ “plans” to raise children who do not have this type of hate within them, they have these feelings due to some community actions, Atticus’ plan “going astray.” A prime example is Scout’s answer to the question of the manner in which the prosecuting attorney addressed Mr. Robinson during his cross examination. Her answer was that he could do that because “..he’s just a negro.”(p. 199) This issue is not just the white community pressing an idea into someone’s head. It can also happen in the black community.
When Atticus Finch asks Calpurnia, his housekeeper, to watch his children for him while he is out, Calpurnia accepts and takes the children with her to church, a black church. When she arrives with the children they are all greeted with hospitality except for a few people. These people use the same argument as in the last example as to why they should not be there, because they are white. What both races have done is shun the other race, now what happens if a child is born with blood from both races. What happens is an isolated race that is exiled from both races because that child has blood from the other race. This evil act can be seen in the novel.
The county practically exiles the children of Dolphus Raymond and his black spouse. It is done to the point that these children are forced to live in the non-racist north where they would not be looked down on as genetic freaks. After reading this, one would wonder of the community’s reaction to Dolphus Raymond, whose committing a great sin by having children with a black woman. Well, the town does not look down on him, the town actually feels sorry for him. Why, because the town does not know the real story, they base their feelings on unsubstantiated rumors. Rumors, no matter how false, can destroy an individual’s reputation.
Two different people, other than Mr. Raymond, are the subject of these rumors: Atticus and “Boo” Radley. Atticus is portrayed as a “nigger lover,” something sinful in Maycomb. Something that prompts Scout to fight anyone so they will think otherwise. “Boo” Radley is the subject of much worse rumors. This calm, sweet, possibly mentally retarded person is the subject of many rumors that have destroyed his reputation. The townspeople consider him an individual who should be locked up in a mental institution, a homicidal maniac. The prime messages observed in this novel is that of racism, how the actions of a community, not just a parent, can affect a child, and how rumors and invalidated facts can destroy anyone’s reputation.
These messages and others help to show why this novel is considered a “classic.” Not just for the story and characters, but also for the messages observed. This novel is more of a political statement than a story, displaying the evils of our society and the consequences of living in such a society.