Pre AP English 9/Hour 5
24 March 2014 Most people, if not all, can’t read minds. If they could, they would probably have a horrendously easy time understanding why people do things and how they feel. It would probably help greatly in times of conflict, as one would understand another’s reasoning. In
Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, not one character can read minds. Jem, Scout, and Dill are growing up in a world where bias and prejudice is plentiful. Luckily, they have an honorable figure like Atticus guiding them on how to deal with conflict. In
To Kill a
, Harper Lee expresses through fear leading to misconceptions; influences of environment and society; and the trial of Tom Robinson, that human conflict comes from the inability to understand one another.
Not knowing something strikes fear or curiosity in people. They often create scenarios or stories to cope with the unknown to feel more intelligent, or create a feeling of safety.
Arthur “Boo” Radley was somebody unknown. He never goes outside, or at least, only goes out at night to feast on the blood of squirrels and cats, a scenario in which Jem has created to make sense of Boo. “Boo was about sixandahalf feet tall, judging from his tracks. He dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that’s why his hand were bloodstained if you ate an animal raw, you could never get the blood off. There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rottened, his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time.(Lee 16)” At this point in the novel, Jem has not even seen Boo
Radley, and in fact, never does see him. His mind just can’t comprehend why anyone would want to hole up inside all the time, so he makes Boo out to be a horrible monster. Not understanding why one does something out of fear is more common than one may question.
Nobody knows what goes on with that person at other times when they’re not with each other, and they may try to make sense of it, creating potentially harmful rumours and starting a dislike towards the person whom they have trouble understanding. “You reckon he’s crazy?”
MIss Maudie shook her head.
“If he’s not, he should be by now. The things that happens to people we never really know, what happens behind closed doors, what secrets”(Lee 61) No person can ever truly know what happens to others all the time, and sometimes they guess at it and put together
“evidence” that may or may not be real. They jump to conclusions, and things get mixed up, and rumours are spread. Boo was not evil, and not really crazy, he was actually very kind and shy. But somehow people make him out to be crazy and monstrous, just because they can’t understand his motive to stay inside all the time. Lee shows through Maycomb County’s interest and rumours of Arthur “Boo” Radley, that fear sparks a need for understanding or explanation, which can lead to misconceptions and eventually, conflict.
Stereotypes and societies influence of how to perceive people play a big part in both
To Kill a Mockingbird and life. Scout is a girl who is easily influenced and naïve, as most
young children usually are. Her older brother Jem leaves an impression on her of his opinion
and sometimes wacky beliefs. Usually, Scout believes him, no questions asked. “Maybe he died and they stuffed him up the chimney.”(Scout)
“Where did you get such a notion?’(Miss Maudie)
“Thats what Jem said he thought they did.”(Lee 58) People are easily influenced by the environment they grow up in, and stereotypes often blindside them. In the 1930’s, racism toward AfricanAmericans was especially encouraged and accepted. With people having so many preconceived notions about someone based on purely physical traits alone, it can block out that they are people too, with feelings and needs no different from anybody else. They don’t want to try to get to know them, or understand them,