To Kill A Mockingbird Classic, a term one uses to describe many things, such as a definingmoment or an object such as a book. When used in this context, such as describing a book, itpersuades the reader to examine the novel further to discover what makes this piece of literature somemorable to people who have read it. One such novel is Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird.
One may describe this novel as a classic because the messages described in the novel can beperceived on so many different levels that any reader, no matter the level, can observe thesemessages. The prime messages observed in this novel is that of racism, how the actions of acommunity, not just a parent, can affect a child, and how rumors and invalidated facts can destroyanyone’s reputation. Racism is mentioned throughout the second part of the novel. It is the prime andmost mentioned part of this section of the novel. This message is displayed on many levels so eventhe lowest level reader can visibly ask oneself why this is occurring. The easiest way to observe thismay be the town’s actions toward Tom Robinson, the negro on trial. The townspeople, for themost part, dismissed the entire trial on the basis on that it does not matter what Atticus can do, Mr.Robinson is automatically guilty.
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This message can also be seen in a severely symbolic manner, TomRobinson’s death. The manner in which he dies is that he escapes and attempts to climb the fence tofreedom, however he only has one good arm and that is his detriment. It slows him up enough toallow the police to shoot him numerous times. Symbolically this can be viewed as a glimmer of hopeto end this suppression. As this glimmer of hope is about to reach the mainstream and acceptancethat racism is evil, it is shot down and dead, thus ending the opportunity. Mr. Robinson got into thisposition by the jury giving in a guilty verdict, despite numerous evidence to the contrary. The jurygave a racist verdict, showing Harper Lee’s opinion of the evil a racist society can do to a minority.
This verdict had repercussions not just to Mr. Robinson, but to the community. One can observethat this verdict influenced the town in a manner no one expected, it twisted the minds of manychildren. A popular saying is that the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray, this is whatbegan to happen to the children of the town, best viewed when observing the Finch children. DespiteAtticus’ plans to raise children who do not have this type of hate within them, they have thesefeelings due to some community actions, Atticus’ plan going astray.
A prime example is Scout’sanswer to the question of the manner in which the prosecuting attorney addressed Mr. Robinsonduring his cross examination. Her answer was that he could do that because …he’s just a negro.(p.199) This issue is not just the white community pressing an idea into someone’s head.
It can alsohappen in the black community. When Atticus Finch asks Calpurnia, his housekeeper, to watch hischildren for him while he is out, Calpurnia accepts and takes the children with her to church, a blackchurch. When she arrives with the children they are all greeted with hospitality except for a fewpeople. These people use the same argument as in the last example as to why they should not bethere, because they are white. What both races have done is shun the other race, now what happensif a child is born with blood from both races.
What happens is an isolated race that is exiled fromboth races because that child has blood from the other race. This evil act can be seen in the novel.The county practically exiles the children of Dolphus Raymond and his black spouse.
It is done tothe point that these children are forced to live in the non-racist north where they would not be lookeddown on as genetic freaks. After reading this, one would wonder of the community’s reaction toDolphus Raymond, whose committing a great sin by having children with a black woman. Well, thetown does not look down on him, the town actually feels sorry for him. Why, because the town doesnot know the real story, they base their feelings on unsubstantiated rumors.
Rumors, no matter howfalse, can destroy an individual’s reputation. Two different people, other than Mr. Raymond, are thesubject of these rumors: Atticus and Boo Radley. Atticus is portrayed as a nigger lover,something sinful in Maycomb. Something that prompts Scout to fight anyone so they will thinkotherwise. Boo Radley is the subject of much worse rumors. This calm, sweet, possibly mentallyretarded person is the subject of many rumors that have destroyed his reputation.
The townspeopleconsider him an individual who should be locked up in a mental institution, a homicidal maniac. Theprime messages observed in this novel is that of racism, how the actions of a community, not just aparent, can affect a child, and how rumors and invalidated facts can destroy anyone’s reputation.These messages and others help to show why this novel is considered a classic. Not just for thestory and characters, but also for the messages observed.
This novel is more of a political statementthan a story, displaying the evils of our society and the consequences of living in such a society.