The story To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee won the Pulitzer Prize, and in a short time has become a classic and is used in schools in the USA. The plot and inspiration of the characters are drawn from her family, neighbors and an event that took place in Alabama in 1936.
The novel tackles the issues or rape and racism, but she filled it with warmth and humor as well. The plot involves Tom who is accused of raping a white girl. The community is torn apart and Atticus decides to defend him. Despite the evidence that clears him, Tom is found guilty. The primary theme is that of racial injustice and the loss of innocence, with the lesser themes of class courage compassion and gender in the American deep south. In particular, there are three themes:
Innocence and Experience
There are three main children in the story who react to the harsh reality of the trial. All lose their innocence.
Dill panics and is filled with fear, Jem grows cynical and disillusioned with the so-called Justice system. Scout reacts more positively, hoping for social change. The main lesson the children learn is that in small towns people who do not conform become marginalized. They also see what adults do not about the loneliness and rejection people like Boo, Dolpus and Tom experience.
Scout learns that children are already seen as acceptable or not based on circumstances they cannot control from Aunt Alexandra condemnations and judgments about the Radleys, Cunninghams and others.
Children play a main role in Harper Lee’s novel and her sympathies are with lie with the good-natured ones. We learn about “dignity in the midst of squalor”
The Enmity and Tension
The town is seething with mistrust, amnesty and hate. Prejudice further divides the town by race and class and a price is paid. Racial prejudice is the main focus but class differences and heredity and inherited social status unfairly dictates how people are treated.
In this community, economic hardship plays a great part. It is in the great Depression and in extreme conditions Harper shows that people react differently, some are generous and fair, while others are mean and fearful.
In this town the poor white farmers have been “hit the hardest”, while businessmen are struggling against bankruptcy. In the middle of it, all are innocents like Tom and Boo.
Harper Lee makes her case for social equality to be practiced as the law provides, and that equal right should be extended to all. She exposes the snobbery and prejudice that mars communities everywhere. She goes far to show the logic behind how things are, and exposes how they ought to be.
Education is a clear route to equality in Lee’s world. It will guarantee equality. All her characters who are educated are also decent and treat others well, such as Scout, Atticus and Miss Maudie. Bob, Mayella and Aunt Alexandra are uneducated, mistrustful and suspicious.
It is a tragic situation, moved and manipulated by deep prejudices, deep-rooted suspicion and mistrust, generational class traditions and fearful men. An innocent man is condemned not because of what he did, but because of the powerful forces of racism and inequality. A powerful and effective book.
Tips on writing a good analytical essay on this topic:
- An analytical essay mostly explores another piece of writing, such as a book.
- If you are writing about a work of fiction, your focus can be one the characters, or a sentence that is central to the work.
- Write a thesis statement in a sentence or two. You may add background of your topic as well in introduction.
- Make an outline with introduction, at least three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
- Your paragraphs need a topic sentence, and something from the book text. Your personal reactions can be noted.
- Your conclusion should bring your thesis and paragraphs together.
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