To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee seems like a complete replica of the lives of people living in a small Southern U.S. town. The themes expressed in this novel are as relevant today as when this novel was written, and also the most significant literary devices used by Lee. The novel brings forward many important themes, such as the importance of education, recognition of inner courage, and the misfortunes of prejudice. This novel was written in the 1930s. This was the period of the “Great Depression” when it was very common to see people without jobs, homes and food. In those days, the rivalry between the whites and the blacks deepened even more due to the competition for the few ...view middle of the document...
During his closing arguments, Atticus explicitly acknowledges the ignorance blinding people's minds and hearts:
The witnesses for the state…have presented themselves
to you gentlemen…in the cynical confidence that their
testimony would not be doubted, confident that you
gentlemen would go along with them on the …evil
assumption…that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are
basically immoral beings, that all Negro men are not to
be trusted around our women, an assumption one
associates with minds of their caliber” (206).
Education is the key to unlocking the ignorance that causes such prejudice. Jem begins to understand this lesson toward the end of the book when he wonders whether family status could be based more on education than on bloodlines.
In the novel the children have a slim vision of life. The reality of life to them is the life they have inside the walls of their home, with their father and Calpurnia. Magill and Kohler sate about the mental level of Scout:
With her childhood guided by a father in his fifties and
a Negro servant, Scout Finch sees the world more with
the eyes of an adult than with those of a child (Magill and Kohler 4696).
They see people like Boo Radley and Tom Robinson as demons. They do not realize how harsh and ugly the world outside their home is. The children mature and gain knowledge and understanding about things they did not know before throughout the novel. They especially learn about the ugliness of prejudice and racism. They thought Tom Robinson would not be found guilty, but he was found guilty as charged just because he was black. Atticus proves that Tom could not have raped Mayella because he cannot even use his left arm, but the jury still finds him guilty. The children learn about injustice and racism from their father. Atticus tells them that a black man’s word cannot be taken against a white man’s word. Scout is upset when she hears the comment made by Miss Gates when leaving the courtroom that it was good Tom was convicted because it would keep the blacks “in their place.” In the beginning of the novel the children do not know who Boo Radley is, or what he looks like. Jem and Scout are afraid of Boo, and Dill is curious about him. They never even go up to his house or even walk on his property. They, like everyone else think that Boo is an outcast, a strange person, and very different from everyone. As the novel progresses, they begin to realize that Boo is very different from what they think. They find that he is friendly and loving when he wraps the blanket around Scout during the fire. The children learn not to prejudge people just because they are different. They mature and become wiser about the way people think and how they act. They become aware of the fact that a black man could not get a fair trial in Maycomb. They see the racism and the hardships of their society. They see that it takes great courage to defend and befriend someone...