Compare and Contrast Essay

Submitted By priscillaraven
Words: 1141
Pages: 5

Edwards 1 Priscilla Edwards Zameroski English 9 5 November 2012 Word Count: 1,080 To Kill a Mockingbird Essay Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, written in the 1960s, is about a story that takes place in a small town caught in the war-stricken 1930s. In Maycomb County, particular family names are placed in social categories from the highest rank to the lowest as follows: the Finches, the Cunninghams, and the Ewells. Innocence is lost when these families negatively interact. As a Finch, Scout views society differently than a Ewell. As she experiences many events that portray the dark side of prejudice, her level of maturity increases. The theme of lost innocence is woven through the interaction of Scout with the characters of Atticus, Tom Robinson, and Boo Radley. Scout begins to understand mature dialogue spoken by Atticus. She is overcome by preconception and dismisses how “you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them” (Lee 321). Atticus shows how prejudice is widely used through wise justifications. Scout learns to look past a person’s appearance and “consider[s] things from [their] point of view” (Lee 33). Scout’s innocence is similar to that of a mockingbird. Miss Maudie is right when she declares, “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music…to enjoy….They don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” (Lee 103). Scout realizes that using prejudice against someone is “like shootin’ a mockingbird” (Lee 317). Atticus explains how racism may set someone’s reputation, but Scout disagrees and comes to the conclusion that “there’s just one kind of folks. Folks” (Lee 259).

Edwards 2 Scout is constantly harassed by children and adults about Atticus defending Tom Robinson in court. Atticus insists Scout refrain from fighting and that “the sooner [she] [learns] to hold in, the better off everybody would be” (Lee 85). Atticus knows that his children look up to him and that in order to earn their respect, he must follow through with Tom Robinson’s case. In turn, Scout knows that “if [she fights] Cecil [she will] let Atticus down” (Lee 88). Atticus’ opinion of Scout motivates her to comply with his wishes. Through Atticus’ influences, Scout transforms into a mature young-woman. As does Atticus, Tom Robinson draws Scout away from her naivety regarding the nature of human character. Scout attends Tom Robinson’s trial and witnesses the effects of racism and prejudice. While explaining to the jury, Atticus shows how easily “men lose their heads [under these influences]—they couldn’t be fair even if they tried” (Lee 251). Scout does not understand why Atticus is not able to win this case. Atticus believes “the one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow”; although the jury appears to have no mercy for African Americans (Lee 252). It is not the outcome of the case that motivates Atticus, “it’s when you know you’re licked before you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do” (Lee 128). Throughout the novel, Tom Robinson is stereotyped as an evil man, which lead to stereotypical “evil assumption[s]—that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral beings, [and] that all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women” (Lee 232). Even Scout, although there is somewhat of a lack of understanding, senses how wrong people can truly be about the life of another human. Being exposed to horrifying things such as these is what diminishes Scout’s innocent mind. But the truth of the matter is different, “and the truth is: some Negroes lie, some Negroes are immoral, [and] some Negroes are not to be trusted around women—black or white” (Lee 232). These

Edwards 3 cases and many more put Scout in a questioning position on how the world may not be as innocent as it appears. Another character that represents the theme of loss of innocence is Boo