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Character Roles in to Kill a Mockingbird

By english3ap May 20, 2012 967 Words
Tina Johnson
English II HN

Character Roles In To Kill A Mockingbird

The characters in To Kill A Mockingbird represent the stereotypes of people who lived in the south. During this time blacks and whites lived in a segregated society. The influence of segregation had an effect on how characters interacted with each other. The children of Atticus Finch, Jem and Scout were deeply affected by the influence of the characters around them . Their influence helped shape their character and beliefs as they matured. Characters in To Kill A Mockingbird, paint a picture of the stereotypes found throughout the south in the early 1930's They demonstrate the influence of the community o the mindset of young and old people as they grow and mature in their thoughts.

Calpurnia played an important role in raising Jem and Scout. She was acknowledged as a motherly figure. Jem's statement to Scout, "You don't 'n I'll tell Calpurnia on you," (pg. 45) shows Calpurnia set and enforced the rules the children were to live by. Scout had taken gum from a tree and put the wad in her mouth. When Jem questioned where she got the gum and found out it had been taken off a tree he began fussing at her and told her to rinse her mouth out. When Scout refused, Jem told her he would tell Calpurnia, just as any child would do with their mother. Calpurnia also attempted to teach the children not to be racist. She brought them to black church even though those that criticized her said, "You ain't got no business bringin' white chillun here; they got their church, we got our'n." (pg. 158) Calpurnia was said to have a split personality. She lived a parallel life attempting to expose the children to both the black and white ways. Her speech and actions would change when she was with whites or blacks even though she tried to help Jem and Scout respect both races as equals. Calpurnia served the children as a Nanny and mother figure and attempted to teach them to respect both races as equals, she demonstrated the differences each and every day. Actions speak louder than words and Calpurnia's actions showed a deep divide between blacks and whites in Maycomb.

Dill visited Maycomb each year and for Scout and Jem, summer meant Dill. Dill represented the innocence of children and when his visits stopped there was a transition from childhood to adulthood. "Yes sir, a clown," said Dill. "There ain't one thing in this world I can do about folks except laugh, so I'm gonna join the circus and laugh my head off." (pg. 289) When confronted with racism and the reaction of the towns people toward Tom Robinson, Dill handled the conflict by stating he wanted to be a clown. He showed his innocence by relating such a serious event to a circus clown. Dill's visits to Maycomb stopped when his mother remarried. Though he returns later in the story, during the summer of his absence, Jem is confronted with the topic of rape. This experience marks Jem's transition from a boy to a man. Atticus was confronted at the courthouse by men who wanted to hurt him because he chose to represent Tom Robinson in the rape case. The children, watching from a hiding place rushed out to confront the men trying to hurt their father. When told to leave, Jem refused. He stood his ground and would not leave even though his father told him so. He was standing up for what he believed and had been taught was right. Though Dill would return to Maycomb, the days would not be as carefree and innocent. The children were growing up.

Ms. Dubose played an important role in Jem's life. Her character demonstrated the whites point of view in Maycomb but more importantly taught Jem the meaning of true courage. Ms. Dubose, an old woman, shouted and picked on the Finch children each time they passed her home. One day she shouted that Atticus was not any better than the "niggers and trash he works for." (pg. 135) This angered Jem and he destroyed Ms. Dubose's flowers. The reality was that Ms. Dubose simply spoke how she felt and had the courage to say what she was really thinking to the children in front of their face instead of behind their backs like the rest of the community. Jem was punished for his actions and forced to read to Ms. Dubose for a month. When he complained, Atticus responded, "You'll do it for a month." (pg. 140) Scout accompanied him to endure the fussing at the end of each reading session. But it is through this encounter that Jem learns the true meaning of courage. Ms. Dubose dies at the end of the month. At that time, Atticus reveals to Jem that Ms. Dubose was addicted to morphine and his reading was a part of her effort to combat that addiction. Atticus gave Jem a box left for him by Ms. Dubose that had a single white camellia in it. Though Jem's interaction with Ms. Dubose began with anger, he learned that outward appearances weren't always a true picture of who people really were. Ms. Dubose had taught Jem the true meaning of courage.

The characters in To Kill A Mockingbird bring different points of view and experiences, that all play an important in making Maycomb the place it is and it's people a true representation of southern culture. The stereotypes of people in the south were depicted in each character throughout the story. To Kill A Mockingbird is filled with symbolism that represents a time of racial unrest in America's south. The author paints this picture through the use of colorful characters.

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