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Essay Paper on “To Kill a Mockingbird”

In the Harper Lee novel To Kill A Mockingbird, we are lead through the lives of two young siblings, Scout and Jem, during two significant years of their childhood. The story is narrated by Scout, the hot-headed daughter of local lawyer Atticus Finch. In court, Atticus represents a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. The outcome of this trial eventually leads to the demise of the defendant.

“Shoot at all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember, it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” Atticus Finch, Chapter 10, Page 99. In the quotation above, Atticus displays his disapproval of senseless destruction. As a young man, he was gifted with excellent marksmanship, and enjoyed shooting doves out of the sky. At some point in his life, he saw that his talent was an unfair advantage over nature, and refused to shoot an animal again unless it was absolutely necessary. Atticus doesn’t want his children to kill the blue jays, but if it keeps them away from the mockingbirds, he’ll let it pass. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up peoples gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.

That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” Miss Maudie, Chapter 10, Pages 99-100. Miss Maudie explains to the children why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird. They are harmless creatures that she seems to believe were placed on Gods planet purely to bring happiness to human beings. Tom Robinson is symbolic of the mockingbird. Brought up as a good natured man, he never wished harm upon anyone else, and even though he was a cripple, he did what he could to help others. Mayella Ewell needed his help to chop up some wood, and Tom complied with her request. Mayella pointed the finger at Tom to save her own skin.

We can only imagine the horrors that she had undergone at the hand of her father, so the woman who Scout describes as “the loneliest person in the whole world” only wanted to distance herself from Bob Ewell’s unspeakable acts. The trial was really only a formality; a ceremony to make Tom Robinsons conviction official. In the times that this book was set in, no jury would dare to convict a black man over a white one, no matter how circumstantial the evidence may be.

Tom Robinson was given his death sentence the second that Mayella Ewell screamed. Tom is not the only “mockingbird” type character in the novel. There is Arthur ‘Boo’ Radley, the neighbourhood legend/phantom who has been kept a virtual prisoner in his own home by the viscous rumors circulated by his shallow neighbours. Frowned upon as a delinquent teenager, the town judge let him free from his crimes on a promise from Mr Radley (Arthur’s father), that no further trouble would be caused. So from that point, ‘Boo’ (as he was affectionately by the community) never left the house in daylight. Night time, however, was when he would reportedly roam around the streets of Maycomb, putting his evil powers to work.

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