To Kill a Mockingbird – Critical Response

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‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is a novel cleverly written by Harper Lee to depict the prejudicial, discriminative and racist attitudes of white society in Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930’s. Maycomb at first glance seems to be a warm and gentle place. However, as the novel progresses, the backdrop of slavery, racism and poverty as a result of the Great Depression becomes prevalent. Lee explores various themes such as the symbol of the mocking bird as a metaphor for innocence , social justice issues such as racism and prejudice and the everyday attitudes of people living in small Deep South towns such as Maycomb. She successfully uses a variety of language techniques including irony, satire, humour and the use of metaphors and colloquial language to develop characters and convey these themes in a way that is interesting engaging and thought provoking. The story is told through the perspective of Scout, the daughter of Atticus, a prominent, widowed lawyer. Harper Lee’s skill in creating vivid imagery and a detailed description of the town is made possible as Scout recounts the story as an adult. The story is divided in two parts. The first deals with Jem (Scouts older brother) and Scout’s obsession with a mysterious man named Arthur “Boo” Radley, who shares the “spooky” Radley House with his father Mr. Nathan Radley. When Scout and Jem befriend a boy called Dill, their obsession his heightened and they play games depicting the life of Boo the way they perceive it. The second Part of the Novel deals with Tom Robinson, a black man who is charged with raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman. Tom is defended by Atticus and it is here that the prejudices of white society become prevalent and confronting. Harper Lee successfully uses irony l as Jem and Scout try to make sense of a society that strives to be moral and decent, yet embraces mindless prejudices and racism. This use of irony and satire coupled with the innocence of the children creates humour (for example, when Scout...
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