Tuesday, January 10, 2012

To kill a mocking bird Discuss the relevance of the title to the novel's central theme.

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I consider the main theme of To kill a mocking bird by Harper Lee to be prejudice. Most of the characters within the novel experience prejudice from others and are to some degree prejudiced to others.Prejudiced beliefs are directed towards groups and individuals in the tired old town of Maycomb.


The title appears throughout the novel and plays a big part in the moral of the story. Atticus Finch has very strong moral beliefs and teaches his children that it is a sin to kill a mocking bird.


Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit em, but remember, its a sin to kill a mocking bird.


The meaning behind this significant quote is mocking birds dont do one thing, but sing their hearts out for us. If you kill a mocking bird it is like killing an innocent human being and that is Harper Lees most important message.


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The mocking bird symbol is kept alive for the reader throughout the narrative, therefore constantly reminding us of the main theme, although the word mocking has been considered in different aspects.The children mock Boo Radleys life, Mayella accuses Atticus of mocking her and the trial is a mockery of justice.


There is no quick and easy way to solve prejudice, and the best way is to break it up into baby steps. When there is a lack of understanding it leads to fear, stereotyping and superstitions, these can spark prejudice and injustice. To stop injustice and prejudice you have to,climb into someones skin and walk around in it, this way you can truly understand a person.


Some characters can be regarded as mocking birds. Two of the most obvious are Tom Robinson and Boo Radley. Society doesnt see things from their point of view so they are judged as evil people, although no-one really knows them.


Boo Radley is a target for prejudice because he has not left his home for twenty five years. He is a largely mysterious character, who is judged unfairly on false rumours. Boo is a kind, loving character who truly emerges when Scout sees him for the first time, not as she has imagined him, but as a human being.


His kindness is shown when he rescues Jem from Bob Ewell. Atticus and the sherriff debate over whether to turn Boo Radley into a celebrity, but realise it would be like killing a mocking bird. Boo has been hidden and shunned from society for so long that to bring him into the lime light would be,sort of like shootin a mockingbird. He is a lonely figure and not used to getting much attention.


As his character gradually emerges he starts to leave gifts for the children which one could see a baby step to gain Scout and Jems friendship.


Another character who one can see as a mocking bird is Tom Robinson. Although Tom is an individual person he is considered by prejudiced people as just part of a group. Toms character is crucial in development of the overall theme of the novel.


Tom is married and his family is part of a respectable church-going black community. In court he acts polite and honourable. He sees Mayella as a lonley and needy girl,perhaps evan lonlier than Boo, but his perception gets him into trouble. He was found guilty due to prejudice beliefs.


Tom Robinson was dead the minute Mayella openend her mouth and screamed, simply because she was a white woman and her opinion would always be seen as more important than a black mans.


Toms death was described in the novel as the senseless slaughter of songbirds which also links to the title.


The symbol for Tom and Boo is not drawn together until Scouts comment at the end when she recognises that the public exposure of Boo Radley would be Sort of like shootin a mocking bird.However it is not obvious during the beginning of the novel, it is visible that both characters have mocking bird traits. They are both victims of prejudice and are both innocent. Boo is innocent of the evil image of which people asscociate with him and Tom of the crime of rape. Both of these characters are also imprisoned. Boo is imprisoned in his own seperate world and literally in his house, Tom is imprisoned and later killed as a result of the peoples narrow mindedness, unfairness and ignorance.


Prejudice is arguably the most prominent theme of the novel, it is directed to people who dont fit in with expected behavioural patterns an about whom very little is known. These beliefs are fed by fear, rumours and apperances.


Although Boo and Tom play a big part in the novel, other characters are targeted by prejudiced people. Aunt Alexandra has very strong views about Atticus maid Calpurnia. She treats her as just a maid , and not as a member of the family as Atticus does. Dolphus Raymond is another target, he is white and lives with a black woman. The community frown upon him as he seems permanently drunk, but that is just a cover-up excuse for his chosen way of life.


The novel shows that in our society we are prejudiced and we should learn to accept people for who they are and try to understand their point of view. To kill a mocking bird gives examples of racial, class and gender prejudice.Class prejudice is closely linked to racial prejudice as lower classes were usually negros. Gender also causes inequality in the novel. When it was set women were still regarded as unequal to men. It was seen that women should be protected by men so Tom Robinsons case was more complicated than just racial prejudice. To some extent class and gender prejudice lead to the injust verdict, guilty.


To kill a mocking bird generally gives the idea that prejudiced ideas are no way to judge people, and as you grow and your experience of the world increases you can learn not to criticize people until you know them. The central theme is reinforced throughout and basically concludes when Scout understands the mocking bird idea. She looks back at the past incidents that have happened from Boos viewpoint and thinks about Atticuss moral of seeing things as if in standing in others shoes. Everything has been concluded, Scout has seen Boo, Robert Ewell is dead and justice has been achieved.





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