The eleventh article in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.” But there are people who judge mockingbirds without thinking twice. They find guilt in harmless and innocent people, in those who resemble mockingbirds.
However, there are people who care for those harmless and prejudiced men and women, those people also try to find a cure for society’s illnesses, and fight on behalf of those mockingbirds. Harper Lee’s classic novel “To Kill A Mockingbird” represents how the society in a small southern town in the 1930s acted and dealt with different situations. The story shows many of the society’s illnesses of the time like racism, gender inequality, and prejudice. The narrator of this story is a little girl named Jean Louise Finch (known as Scout) who is the daughter of Atticus Finch, a lawyer. We can see how the situations dealt in the novel change Scout’s points of views as well as her life. To Kill A Mockingbird represents how people can become cruel and indifferent while dealing with issues that don’t directly affect them. Instead of helping and caring for others with real problems, for people who do deal with discrimination, unfair judgment, inequality, disenfranchise, economic, social or physical problems, people who have to hide and people who have to fight, instead of showing interest for the million mockingbirds living in the world, they care about the issues that involve and affect their personal lives instead of trying to make a change. People from the 1930s might have been a little more judgmental, but that does not mean some people from the present day aren’t.
Scout Finch was only six at the beginning of the novel. She was known for being curious and actually very bright. Her intelligence and forwardness usually got her in some trouble. Her mother died when she was two, and she lives with her father Atticus and her older brother Jem.
Gender inequality is one example of prejudice Scout had to endure. One occasion of this unfair judgment happened to Scout when she was describing what she did on afternoons when Jem and Dill wouldn’t let her play with them in the tree house just because she was a girl. She said, “but I kept aloof from their more foolhardy schemes for a while, and on pain of being called a girl, I spent most of my remaining twilights that summer sitting on Miss Maudie’s porch.” (Lee, 55).
Scout has a hard time that summer because of the judgment her brother and best friend made of her. She couldn’t play with them because she was a girl and since she started “acting like one,” they told her to go play with other girls and just leave them alone. Scout resembles a mockingbird in the novel, especially when her brother Jem and she were attacked and almost killed by the drunk Bob Ewell. They were both harmless and innocent, they had done nothing wrong. They were just children getting home after a Halloween show/pageant. “Something crushed the chicken wire around me. Metal ripped on metal and I fell to the ground and rolled as far as I could…”(Lee, 262)”From somewhere nearby came scuffling, kicking sounds, sounds of shoes and flesh scraping dirt and roots. Someone rolled against me and I felt Jem.
He was up like lightning and pulling me with him but, though my head and shoulders were free, I was so entangled we didn’t get very far. We were nearly to the road when I felt Jem’s hand leave me, felt him jerk back to the ground. More scuffling, and there came a dull crunching sound and Jem screamed…” (Lee, 264). “He was out of his mind,” said Atticus. “Don’t like to contradict you, Mr.
Finch—wasn’t crazy, mean as hell. Low-down skunk with enough liquor in him to make him brave enough to kill children. He’d never have met you face to face…” (Lee, 296).
Bob Ewell almost killed Scout and Jem and had every intention of doing so. He was a coward blinded by the rage he got by being ridiculed at court. Instead of accepting the consequences, he tried to “get” Atticus, however, he tried to take revenge on him by almost killing his children. It is senseless for someone to slaughter songbirds who don’t disturb and entertain us with their beautiful songs. It is also senseless to kill harmless and innocent people who have not done any evil to the world.Atticus Finch is a lawyer, and Scout and Jem’s father. He represents reason and morality. His parenting style is quite unique in that he treats his children as adults, honestly answering any question they have.
He uses all these instances as an opportunity to pass his values on to Scout and Jem. He is an example of righteousness, justice, and sincerity. Atticus politely proves that Bob Ewell is a liar; he respectfully questions Mayella about her role in Tom’s crisis. Atticus is known for acting in public the same way he acts at home. He was prejudiced by many people. An example is: “Just what I said. Grandma says it’s bad enough he lets you all run wild, but now he’s turned out a nigger-lover we’ll never be able to walk the streets of Maycomb again. He’s ruinin’ the family, that’s what he’s doin’.
” (Lee, 83). This is what Francis (Scout’s own cousin) said about Atticus. No one was very happy with Atticus defending Tom Robinson. They understood that Atticus was appointed, but they also understood that he was going to try. They didn’t want him to try.
In their minds, Tom Robinson was guilty because he was a colored person. The mockingbird can symbolize Atticus because Atticus never intends to harm anyone. Mockingbirds are described as creatures that “don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.” (Lee, 93).
Atticus does his best to avoid antagonism, and he nurtures his children with gentle persuasions and not harsh punishments. When Scout asks why he has taken Tom’s case, Atticus states, “For a number of reasons. The main one is, if I didn’t I couldn’t hold up my head in town, I couldn’t represent this county in the legislature, I couldn’t even tell Jem not to do something again.” (Lee, 49). Atticus doesn’t do anything to harm another person. He wants everyone to be treated with justice.
He recognizes society’s illness and wants to do the best he can to make a change, he acts righteously and with all sincerity. If he didn’t take Tom’s case and defend him fairly, Atticus wouldn’t be able to be an example of morality for his children. He says it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird, and though he surprised Scout when he said this, she later understood why he said so. Atticus Finch told his children: “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand.
It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” (Lee, 149).Atticus Finch is a real example of courage.To Kill A Mockingbird states how easy it is to judge because the society pushes us to, and how people change because of those judgments. As the African activist Nelson Mandela said, “humans aren’t born hating. They learn to hate, so if they can learn to hate they can also be taught to love.” Loving comes more naturally to the human heart than the opposite. If people are also taught to love each other and all of humanity’s mockingbirds without caring about religion, the color of their skin, or his or her background, the society would be very different.
The novel shows how important it is to try to “climb into a person’s skin and walk around in it” (Lee, 39), so people can understand the lives and the acts of a person instead of judging them without any consideration. Everyone should love and care for the mockingbirds, but those people also have to teach those who disregard mockingbirds how to love and respect. People change people. In 100 years someone might invent something that predicts the effects of every action, but until then all one can do is trust this: Fear, prejudice, pride, and hate spread awfully fast, but fortunately, love, justice, expression, and freedom does too.