There are many themes that are explored in this novel of “To Kill A Mockingbird”. Harper Lee puts these themes to good use throughout the book, which gives the reader a good sense of what is going on in the novel. There are ten main themes explored throughout this novel, and Harper Lee uses these themes to describe the different events that take place during the novel.The first theme that is explored in this novel is the theme of “courage”. It is explored throughout the novel, but it’s main impact, is in part one of the novel, and also in some parts of part two.
It is used in several chapters.Firstly, there is the courage shown by the children, Jem, Scout and Dill. They all have their childish fears of the “Radley Place”, and in the chapters one, two and six, they show their signs of fearlessness. Here are some examples:* Jem takes on Dill’s dare to touch the Radley place, even though they believed a “maleviolent phantom” lived there.* On the night that Jem loses his pants on the Radley fence, he finds the courage to return later, to retrieve them.* It takes courage in a young child to stand up to defend a classmate, as Scout does when Walter is embarrassed by the new teacher asking about his lunch.Here, there is a determination to overcome fear, even at the level of childish activities. In Scout’s case, however, it is her determination to prevent a classmate from being the victim of a teacher’s ignorance of local families.
Secondly, there is a case of more obvious courage. Chapter ten is focused on guns. When Calpurnia raises the alarm about the mad dog, Atticus arrives, and shoots the dog in a courageous manner. The children are shocked, as they have never seen such a thing before, especially with Atticus.Thirdly, there is the incident involving Mrs Dubose.
Chapter eleven is devoted to the children’s encounter with the unpleasant old woman. She takes pleasure in insulting Jem and Scout, which pushes Jem to destroy her flowers. It takes courage for Jem to accept the punishment, of reading to Mrs Dubose every afternoon, but the children learn a valuable lesson, as taught by Atticus:”I wanted you to see something about her. 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 is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway, and see it through no matter what.
You rarely win, but sometimes you do. She was the bravest person I ever knew.”Atticus also displays courage, with his case defending Tom Robinson.
As he said, he knew that he would be beaten, before he even started. Here, Atticus displays courage, in accepting the task given to him.Moral developmentThis novel charts three years in the lives of two children. In these years, they learn where evil is to be found in their community, and also to develop the ethical principals to withstand it. They both go to school, but they also have other teachers, around them.Atticus is a single parent.
He develops a moral awareness in his children directly by what he says, and indirectly, by what they see him do. E.g:”You never really understand a person, until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it…
“Boo Radley may not seen like a teacher to the children, but throughout the novel, they discover more about him, and with the changing of attitudes towards him, they reach a more mature acceptance of people’s differences.Calpurnia and Miss Maudie also play a big part in the lives of the children, and also their development.* The children look up to Calpurnia as a mother. The fact that they obey her is a sign that they accept her as a sign of authority.* When Calpurnia sends Scout in the kitchen for insulting Walter’s table manners, she tells Scout that Walter is their guest. Scout is made to be ashamed.* When Atticus defends Calpurnia, he tells Alexandra “She tried to bring them up according to her lights, and Cal’s lights are pretty good.” This indicates that she has the same ideas about what is right and wrong as Atticus has.
It is from Miss Maudie that the children learn how to react to circumstances that are so upsetting. Miss Maudie teaches the children about what is good and what is evil.* She gives Scout attention, when Jem chooses Dill as his companion. Scout is taught about the issues in the community.* She talks to the children about Boo: “His name’s Arthur, and he is alive.”* She changes their attitudes towards their father – Atticus does not boast about his shooting ability.* She gets through her house burning down.
(A time of difficulty)PrejudicePrejudice is an attitude towards someone or something, based on an opinion formed beforehand. There are many types of prejudice throughout the novel:Gender Prejudice was very big. Men were always higher than women. (This is highlighted in the jury being all male in the trial). The attitude of the younger people is shown in Jem’s choice of insult: “I swear, Scout, sometimes you act like so much of a girl.
” Scout, herself, accepts her inferior role: “…on pain of being called a girl, I spent most of the remaining twilights that summer sitting with Miss Maudie on her front porch.As a result of the negative attitudes towards women, Scout hates being called Jean Louise, and doesn’t like wearing “girly” clothes.
Class prejudice is also very big in Macomb County. Class distinctions are usually based on wealth, and /or family background:Upper Class* Atticus is a Lawyer. He may not be wealthy, but he comes from an old family, which has been in the area for generations. Therefore, he would be classified by Aunt Alexandra, the expert on the caste system, as one of the fine folks.
The ladies who attend tea parties with Aunt Alexandra all come from this class, as do other professional people in the town. Aunt Alexandra would certainly not allow Scout to visit Calpurnia’s home, nor will she allow Walter Cunningham to be invited to the house, as she considers him as “trash”.Farming Class* The Cunninghams, and their neighbours in Sarum are poor.
Yet they have dignity and, as the new teacher soon discovers, pay their way as best as they can, or go without. Mr Walter Cunningham has not gone in to welfare because he is determined to keep his land, and vote for whomever he chooses.Lower Class* The Ewells are poor whites, yet they are rejected by all their lifestyle. Bob takes a welfare cheque, but drinks most of the money. He makes no effort to work, and gives his children no care.
The Negros* Regardless of their level of education, good manners, hard work or dignity, the Negros are despised by the other classes* At Tom’s trial, Mr Link Dias interrupts the court, by calling out, “I just want the whole lot of you to know one thing right now. That boy’s worked for me for eight years an’ I ain’t had a speck o’trouble outa him.”* On the same occasion, Scout explains to Dill why Mr Gilmore calls Tom “boy”, and sneers at himThese class distinctions are closely related to the theme of racial prejudice.