Kill a Mockingbird the Novel to Kill Term Paper

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Kill a Mockingbird

The novel To Kill a Mockingbird by author Harper Lee tells the story of a southern American family living in a rural community during the Great Depression. Atticus Finch is the single, widowed father of Jeremy, nicknamed Jem, and Jean Louise, nicknamed Scout. Many people of the town of Maycomb, Alabama dislike the Finches because Atticus is educated, because of the way that Atticus is raising his children and also for his attitudes towards segregation and racial equality. Mr. Finch tries very hard to teach his children right from wrong, to let them live and make some of their own mistakes, and to raise them as intelligent human beings who judge men by the quality of the character, not the color of their skin. Although Atticus Finch is not a perfect man, he is ultimately a good father and a very good man.

Most of the plot of the novel deals with Atticus's defense of an African-American man named Tom Robinson who is accused of the rape and brutal assault on a white woman, Mayella Ewell. Racism is rampant in Maycomb and almost all the adults have prejudicial views. Racism is called "Maycomb's usual disease" (Lee 98). In the south, Harper Lee makes it clear that there is no place for justice for a black man. "Atticus has used every tool available to free men to save Tom Robinson, but in the secret court of men's hearts Atticus had no case. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed" (Lee 270). Although Tom is obviously innocent, he is convicted and ultimately dies. Atticus is very concerned with the case and with the larger issue of racial injustice which nearly leads to the death of his two children.

Atticus Finch tries to get his children to learn right from wrong by forcing them to make amends when they commit a wrong and encouraging them to do right even when it is difficult. Atticus says, "Before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience" (Lee 105). Even though everyone in the town is judging Atticus for defending Tom, he refuses to sacrifice his principles to make his life easier. He tries to prevent Jem and Scout from hating others and encourages them to consider the perspective of someone who they disagree with. For example, he says to the kids: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point-of-view…until you climb into his skin and walk around it" (Lee 35). When one of the children tramples a flower bed of an elderly, bigoted woman, Atticus makes Jem go and read to the woman every day until she eventually passes away. The lesson that Jem and Scout are taught is that not only must they make restitution for the wrong that they do, but that even some of the most reprehensible people have some good in them. This is proven when the woman leaves Jem a white flower as a gift following her passing.

The most important lesson in the novel is that people should be judged by their character and not by their race. Atticus tries to instill in his children the idea that there are good people in the world and that there are also bad people. This is true of people no matter what their skin color happens to be. "As you grow older you'll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don't…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited:

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1960. Print.

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