Themes in "To Kill a Mockingbird"

March 15, 2021 by Essay Writer

Courage Basic courage

Required to overcome childish fears Running past the Radley Place, or returning there to fetch the trousers that Jem caught on the fence. Atticus shows the same kind of courage in facing the mad dog, even though he was a gun in his hand.Moral courage Scout has to find courage in order to face her friends without retaliating, when they call her father names. It cannot be easy to be made to look like a coward.The most difficult form of courage to possess is the courage to take on and carry through a task which is certain to end in the futureAtticus has to do this when he defends Tom Robinson.

Mrs. Dubose also chooses to do this when she attempts to rid herself of drug addiction even though she knows she is dying. She wins her fight and Atticus called her ’the bravest person’ he knew.Atticus wants the children to realize that courage is not ’a man with gun in his hand’.

An example of a man totally without courage is Bob Ewell. Instead of facing Atticus, he tries to take revenge on the children, and even he does not have the character to face them in daylight, but strikes in the darkness.


The cruelty that people inflict upon others by the holding of pre-formed ideas, ’the simple hell people give other people’, as Dolphus Raymond puts it. It is not to just the matter of the present racial prejudices which is present in Maycomb but the intolerant, narrow, rigid codes of behavior that most townspeople wish to impose on others. People such as Boo Radley, Dolphus Raymond and, to a lesser extent, Maudie Atkinson, are persecuted because they do not conform. Tom Robinson is found guilty, in the face of very strong suspicion that his accusers are lying, because he went against the accepted position of a Negro and dared to feel sorry for a white person. The prejudices of the people of Maycomb is so entrenched that they do not realize how hypocritical they are. Aunt Alexandra’s missionary circle tea highlights the double standards. Miss Gate extols the virtue of American democracy when she explains that “we don’t believe in persecuting anybody’ when she has already stated that the negros needed to be taught a lesson as ‘they were gettin’ way above themselves. Prejudice is also visible in the racially condescending Mrs. Grace Merriweather; In Aunt Alexandra’s and many other character’s belief in the importance of social class; In the gender stereotypes that people try to force on Scout; And in the way the town views Boo Radley as a monster because he acts differently from everyone else.

Understanding, education

One of the main lessons Atticus teaches Jem and Scot is the importance of understanding another person’s point of view. He urges them to stand in the other’s shoes, to know how he or she is feeling. We see how successful Atticus is when the children learn to look with sympathy on Boo Radley. Mayella Ewell and Mrs. Dubose. Scout also learns how to understanding her teacher Miss Caroline, her brother as he grows into adolescence and even some aspects of her Aunt Alexandra. The novels plea for tolerance on racial matters is based on the idea that understanding is the key to greater equality amongst all races.

Growing up, coming of age, loss of innocence

At the start of the book Jem and Scout are innocents, with an uncomplicated sense of what’s good (Atticus, the people of Maycomb) and what’s evil(Boo Radley) By the end of the book, the children have lost their innocence and gained a more complex understanding of the world, in which bad and good are present and visible in almost everyone. As the children grow into the adult world, they don’t just accept what they see. They question what doesn’t make sense to them — prejudice, hatred and violence. The Mockingbird Image occurs frequently in novel. The children are warned that it is a sin to kill this songbird because all it does is sing. The mockingbird has no original song of its own but merely copies the songs of other birds — hence its name.

Tom and Boo

Both gentle people who have done no harm but only try to help others. Their lives are a mockery of the intolerant white society which surrounds them. Both should be protected — not hunted by the mob, who are full of false courage, ignorance and shallow pride like the children who shoot songbirds. Both are persecuted — one by the jury and the other by the children and gossipsMockingbird symbol also relates to two themes — Justice and childhood. Justice is ’killed’ when the jury follow their own prejudices and ignored the true evidence. The innocence of childhood dies for Jem, Scout and Dill when they realize that the adult is often a cruel and unjust place.

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