AP English Language
11 September 2012
Essay of Analysis: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
It takes a courageous man like Harper Lee’s character, Atticus Finch, to defend a negro in this time period. Despite the innocence of Tom Robinson, a hard working man accused of attacking a white woman, he will never fully receive the justice he deserves all due to the color of his skin. Although the trial of Tom Robinson was unethical and unjust, the arguments that Atticus presents to the prosecutors were very persuasive. Harper Lee, the author, uses many different styles of writing like imagery and also makes use of the rhetorical triangle.
Atticus Finch brings many convincing points to the table in his case. One of which he argues that the disability of Tom would not allow him to have left the bruises and marks on Ms. Mayella Ewell as she is claiming. Another logical argument stressed by Atticus to try and convince the jury that Tom is innocent proposed that Ms. Mayella had ,in fact, tempted Tom herself. If this suggestion was true she would be disgraced and shunned by not only her neighbors of Maycomb county, but also Robert Ewell her father. Both points that were brought to the jury attention are extremely important because the first one is physical evidence that Tom is certainly innocent. The second argument points out the possibility that Mayella could be lying to try and cover up a “mistake” she made or to try and make peace with herself by “getting rid” of Tom altogether. Atticus does a nice job in bringing strong scenarios to the judge and jury, but the preconceived notations of Tom Robinson, “the nigger,” were too strong.
When Harper Lee wrote To Kill A Mockingbird, she included some helpful techniques to lend to Atticus’ case. One technique she utilized was imagery. “Tom Robinson reached around, ran his fingers under his left arm and lifted it. He guided his arm to the Bible and his rubber-like left hand sought contact with the black binding. As he raised his right hand, the useless one slipped off the Bible and hit the clerks table. He was trying again when Judge Taylor growled “that’ll do tom” Tom took the oath and stepped into the witness chair”(Lee 254). This quote from the book is a perfect example of showing the imagery in her writing. The wording of the text reveals a clear picture in the reader’s mind of what’s happening and how it is happening as well. The author also made use with a technique called cliff hanging. This technique leaves the person thinking and dwelling on the last or main things the speaker has stated. An example would be when Atticus gives his final plea in the Tom Robinson case. He states after giving a prominent speech on equality, “I am confident that you will review without passion the evidence you have heard, come to a decision, and restore this defendant to his family. In the name of God, do your duty”(Lee 275). As it turned out, the jury members and judge couldn’t get past their biased decision, and declared Tom a guilty man.
Atticus being a well educated and a well liked individual in the community handed him a certain advantage of credibility, ethos, and logic, or logos, to defend Tom. Not even his credibility of being an intelligent and wise man was enough to change the minds of those who mattered, the judge and jury. Atticus enlightens the jury members quite frequently of Tom’s incapability to attack Mayella the way she had explained to the public. He made it clear that it wasn’t logical in anyway. For instance, he argues, “…and Tom Robinson now sits before you, having taken the oath with the only good hand he possesses—his right hand. And so a quiet, respectable, humble Negro who had the unmitigated temerity to ‘feel sorry’ for a white woman has had to put his word against two white people’s”(Lee 273). This case as a whole presents many examples of the rhetoric triangle.
Tom Robinson was an innocent African American man with a generous heart. By graciously helping out a needy and lonely white woman, he has become a victim of a crime that wasn’t committed by him. To Kill A Mockingbird is an American classic that really makes readers second guess and question the way people should be respected and treated in general. Atticus Finch and Harper Lee show brilliance in all aspects of rhetoric in this case and also in this story.
Lee, Harper. To Kill A Mockingbird. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 1960. Print.