I am writing in recognition of your recent column about popular themes within the book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee. The columnist mentioned the theme of racial discrimination and I feel that they have overlooked the most important theme; social inequality. If your columnist wishes to write about ‘popular’ themes, then please ensure that they have it right! I am sorry to note that many people who read this extraordinary novel fail to acknowledge the fact that there are other characters within the novel who, unfortunately, have also suffered the burden of discrimination as a result of their social status. Harper Lee’s phenomenal style of literature requires the full attention of the reader to be able to read what is in between the lines. The messages within the novel are not as simple as black and white (ah, the great words of Atticus Finch!) Social inequality, the most important theme, develops right throughout the entire book; from start to finish. It starts out with little Walter Cunningham on his and scout’s first day of school. Walter had no lunch and refused to borrow any money from their teacher, Miss Caroline. Miss Caroline is an example of the clever characterisation that allows the responders of today to better understand the social expectations and structure of Maycomb County by comparing them with that of an outsider. When Scout is told to explain Walter’s situation to Miss Caroline, we are able to see that social expectations are so deeply engrained within Maycomb County that even the most innocent residents, the children, are able to understand. It is quite apparent during the classroom scene of their first day that Walter Cunningham does not live up to the social expectations in the County due to his family’s financial status. Scout, in the novel states ‘he’s probably never seen three quarters together at the same time in his life’. Through the characterisation of Walter Cunningham and Miss Caroline we are able to see that...
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