Life Lessons in To Kill a Mockingbird
Parents support their children through influencing how they mature and ultimately become their child’s role model. The novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is about how two children, Scout and Jem Finch grow up and begin to understand the world in a more adult point of view. Their father, Atticus Finch, assists them to see the world for what it truly is. Thus, he aids his children by teaching them important life lessons throughout the novel. Atticus tries to teach his children to look beyond a person’s skin color and treat them as equals. Furthermore, Atticus strives to teach Scout to put herself into another person’s shoes in order to truly understand them. Lastly to stand up for one’s beliefs and what is right and true. Scout and Jem ultimately learn from the three life lessons about racism and prejudice, empathy and courage that Atticus attempts to teach them.
Racism is visible within the town of Maycomb. When Tom Robinson, a black man is accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman; the white townspeople automatically take a white man’s word over a black man’s. Atticus Finch is the lawyer chosen to defend Tom Robinson and when the town hears of this, they direct their anger towards Atticus and his children. You know what’s going to happen as well as I do, Jack, and I hope and pray I can get Jem and Scout through it without bitterness, and most of all, without catching Maycomb’s usual disease. Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don’t pretend to understand… I just hope that they trust me enough…Jean Louise? (Lee 117). Atticus is talking to his brother Jack and he refers to his court case when he says, “You know what’s going to happen as well as I do,” he means that he already knows he will lose defending Tom Robinson, a black man over Bob Ewell, a white man. Atticus understands that he will be assailed for his actions during the case and he recognizes that the town will also bring his children into it. He hopes that it will not affect his children. Atticus wants them to grow up with respect for all people, instead of “catching Maycomb’s usual disease” to stereotype and be hostile towards African-Americans. Atticus wants his children to come to him for any information instead of listening to the harsh rumors made by the town. He does so by actually letting Scout listen to the conversation and it is evident when he says, “I hope they trust me enough… Jean Louise?” He knew that Scout was in fact eavesdropping on his conversation with his brother and his intention was that she would hear what he said. In doing so, he hopes that he has implanted the idea to Scout of coming to him with any problems that she or her brother encounters from the case. “You might hear some ugly talk about it at school, but do one thing for me if you will: you just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don’t let ’em get your goat.” (Lee 101). Atticus is advising Scout to resist urge to fight others for calling him a “nigger lover” Atticus explains that this is not a bad thing and befriending African Americans is in fact the right thing to do. He wants Scout and Jem to realize that what the town is doing is not right and using “nigger lover” as an insult to someone is not acceptable. Atticus does lead by example by treating Calpurnia, their black helper as part of the family and by agreeing to defend Tom at the trial. Most lawyers with such a case would have not even try to win because they would succumb to the town’s ignorance and believe a white man over a black man. Atticus does not give in and he exemplifies that a person’s ethnicity does not matter and everyone is and equal and deserving of respect. At the end of chapter 23, Scout and Jem discuss the types of people in Maycomb County. Jem conceives the idea that there are four types of people in the world because not everyone gets along...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document