"To Kill a Mockingbird" Critical Lens Essay

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Mahatma Gandhi once said, "Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." Gandhi is trying to express that the true brawn a person has is not the physical ability, but the mental stability and strength is contains. In "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee, the main characters, Scout and Jem, demonstrate their own version of strength through being able to overcome the bad influence of their hometown, Maycomb. Harper Lee shows this through characterization of Jem and imagery pertaining to Scout.

Jem gains his own strength by realizing the flaws of the judgement of the people of his town. After the trial of Tom Robinson, Jem speaks to Scout about his realization relevant to the outcome of the trial (the fact that Tom Robinson was found guilty of a crime that the evidence indicated that he wasn't). Jem speaks about the point of view of the jury involved with the trial and comes up with a conclusion about Boo Radley, a man who mysteriously never comes out of his home. Jem stated, "Scout, I'm beginning to understand something…why Boo stayed shut up in his house all the time…it's because he wants to stay inside" (Lee, 259). The fact that Jem lives in a community of predominantly judgmental people would make one assume that he would pick up on that mentality and mimic it, since it is the only thing he truly knows/has grown up around. But Jem is different. Prior to this moment, Jem was extremely sheltered from any possible negative/contradictory views about the town. As he is maturing into an adult, Jem is still trying to dissect the world around him, trying to view his locale through a different lens. He knows that the evidence in the trial showed that Tom was innocent, but was smart enough to recognize the opposite view the jury had. He is able to point out the questionable actions/injustices in the judgement of the community and bring to light what they truly are. This moment characterizes Jem as someone who is learning to be...
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