Themes and Issues of Harper Lee's 'to Kill a Mockingbird'

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In the text, To Kill a Mockingbird, the composer, Harper Lee, effectively offers various themes and ideas which critique a prejudiced 20th century southern America. The responder is presented with the impact of social injustice in the community which is further linked with the segregation of the many races due to their different lifestyles and beliefs. The responder is also introduced to the courage present in many of the key characters which help solve these complex dilemmas of society. These issues are subtly communicated, giving the responder an insight into the issues present in the wider community and challenging their personal values and beliefs.

Throughout the text, the issue of social injustice is evidently pointed out by the composer, Harper Lee. She argues her point through the characterisation of many key characters. A significant figure in the text, Boo Radley, is constantly exposed to the injustice shown by the little community of Maycomb. Having been imprisoned inside his own house for fifteen years has enabled the town to spread malicious rumours about him. The responder is given a description of his appearance, a man of ‘about six-and-a-half feet tall…a long jagged scar that ran across his face'. This description highlights the ignorance of the town, showing that although many citizens have not seen Boo face-to-face, they still discuss his appearance as though they have, evident in the children's games played by Jem, Scout and Dill. This injustice foreshadows the injustice shown in Part II of the text, where a black man, Tom Robinson, is on trial for the rape of a young woman, Mayella Ewell. Although his lawyer, Atticus Finch, clearly proves to the jury – consisting of twelve white men – that Tom is innocent, he is still proven guilty. ‘In the secret courts of men's hearts, Atticus had no case.' The injustice shown towards black people is really emphasised to the responder in this major event of the text, pointing out the link between injustice...
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