To Kill a Mockingbird: Controversial Issues

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To Kill A Mockingbird: Controversial Issues

In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee addresses many controversial issues. Such issues as, racism, discrimination, and social class are explored. During the 1950's in the small county of Maycomb, the mentality of most southern people reflected that of the nation. Most of the people were racist and discriminatory. In the novel, these ideas are explored by a young girl, Scout. The readers see the events that occur through her eyes. In the book, Scout's father, Atticus, tells Scout and Jem, "I'd rather you shoot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit'em, but remember its a sin to kill a mockingbird." (pg. 69) The mockingbird is a symbol for two of the characters in the novel: Tom Robinson and Boo Radley. The mockingbird symbolizes these two characters because it does not have its own song. Whereas, the blue jay is loud and obnoxious, the mockingbird only sings other birds' songs. Because the mockingbird does not sing its own song, we characterize it only by what the other birds sing. Hence, we see the mockingbird through the other birds. In the novel, the people of Maycomb only know Boo Radley and Tom Robinson by what others say about them. Both of these characters do not really have their own "song" in a sense, and therefore, are characterized by other people's viewpoints.

Throughout the novel, Scout, Jem, and Dill are curious about the "mysterious" Boo Radley because he never comes outside of his house or associates with anyone in the neighborhood. The children are, in fact, afraid of him because of all the stories they hear about him from the people in Maycomb. For example, Miss Stephanie tells the children that while Boo was sitting in the living room cutting a magazine, he "drove the scissors into his parent's leg, pulled them out, wiped them on his pants, and resumed his activities." (pg. 11) After hearing stories like these, the...
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