Studyit

Hi could I please have some feedback for this To Kill A Mockingbird essay

Analyse how the author’s purpose was revealed through expected or unexpected events.

Specific events from the famous bildungsroman ‘ To Kill A Mockingbird,’ were used to reveal and reinforce Harper Lee’s purpose, which is the harsh reality of discrimination in all its many forms, and how important it is that humanity works and strives towards a place of equality where all feel welcome. Lee challenges her readers to confront the racism in their own backyards, much like Atticus Finch does during her Pulitzer prize-winning novel. These specific events from the text are, Tom Robinson’s court trial, Scout and Dill Harris’ encounter with Dolphus Raymond, and Bob Ewell’s attack on the Finch children. These events show the instinctive racial tendencies that blind the people of Maycomb, the lengths that one must go to in order to escape discrimination from his fellow townsfolk, along with the harsh reality of human nature, and that anger and darkness causes people to react in different ways.

‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ focuses on the life of young Jeremy (Jem) Finch, and his journey from childhood to adolescence, where he begins to lose his childhood innocence, as he realises the true nature of Maycomb, Alabama during the 1930s. The novel is narrated by Jean Louise (Scout) Finch, younger sister of Jem, and the narrative follows their father’s decision, to defend a coloured man accused of rape, Tom Robinson. Atticus Finch is a well-respected lawyer who is held in high regard by the town, a respect that is tested over the course of the book. Tom is found to be guilty by an all-white jury, representative of the Jim Crow Laws that presided over many American states during the 20th century. These laws enforced segregation between white and coloured people, often sentencing coloured folk to a second-rate standard of life. The Jim Crow era came to an end as the result of the Civil Rights Movement in 1965, to which Harper Lee contributed greatly when she published her first book 5 years earlier. She encouraged her audience to join the fight against not just racism but all the many forms of discrimination, by providing a story that created a very raw emotional response in the reader, opening their eyes to the harshness and reality of prejudice and inequality that is still as relevant today as it was in 1960.

The event of Tom Robinson’s trial serves as the centrepiece of the novel itself and reveals just how clouded the minds of those Maycombians really are, those who are unwilling to see. A hardworking and honest man, Tom is falsely accused of rape by Mayellla Ewell, who lives in constant fear of her abusive and alcoholic father Bob Ewell, a nasty and neglectful man, that lives adjacent to the town dump and spends his money on booze instead of providing for his many children. Despite there being no medical evidence whatsoever that suggests that a rape did in fact occur, the exclusively white jury finds Tom to be guilty, even after a masterful defensive argument from Atticus Finch. The verdict was extremely unexpected to Jem Finch, but not to Atticus who knew that “Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella opened her mouth and screamed.” Before the verdict was revealed, Jem asks his father “We’ve won haven’t we?” Jem is shown firsthand the harsh reality of racism in his hometown, and how Maycomb is not as joyous as he once imagined it to be. He is emotionally shattered by this and struggles to come to terms with what he has observed, for a long time. Harper Lee utilizes Tom Robinson’s trial and verdict to provide a real example of how instinctive racism is to many communities across the world that are affected by this “disease.” This case shares similarities to the Scottsboro Boys, who were a group of coloured adolescents who were wrongfully imprisoned for the suspected rape of two women, whilst travelling on a train in 1930. They were also convicted by an all-white jury.

A second event that was unexpected and conveyed by Harper Lee to communicate the lengths that people are forced to go to in order to escape the judgement of others, is the encounter between Scout and Dill Harris, and apparent drunk Dolphus Raymond. Dill Harris is a neighbour of the Finches and becomes a close companion of Jem and Scout during their childhood adventures. Dolphus Raymond is an affluent man who has married a black woman and conceived mixed children. However, he escapes any meaningful hatred from the people of Maycomb, because he has managed to convince them of his constant intoxication. Raymond reveals to the two children that the paper bag he carries around is in fact not whisky, but coca-cola. He then says, “It helps to give them a reason you see.” Dill is overwhelmed and begins to break down in tears, to which Raymond says, “Don’t cry about that, cry about the simple hell white people give coloured folk, without stopping to think that they’re people too.” This encounter with Raymond shows just how serious and widespread racism has become, and how it is so ingrained within the minds of the townsfolk, to the point where they believe the only possible reason for a white man to marry a coloured woman, is because he has allowed alcohol to cloud his judgement. This is believed without a second thought, which is saddening. Lee uses this encounter to demonstrate how there is a small number of people who are fighting against the tide that holds their society back from progression. A tide that will take time to turn. Maycomb is set in its ways and through Dolphus Raymond, the audience is reminded that our choices are ours to make, and don’t fall into the crowd, especially when that crowd is going against everything you ought to believe in.

A final event that Harper Lee implemented to convey the reality of human nature, and that life is not always sunshine and rainbows, is Bob Ewell’s sudden retaliation and attack on Jem and Scout Finch. The children are walking home after their community play, where Ewell emerges from the shadows and attacks them violently, breaking Jem’s arm in the process. Just in the nick of time, Arthur (Boo) Radley arrives and kills Ewell, saving the children. Boo is a misunderstood man, and is likened to a mockingbird symbol like Tom Robinson, who does “Nothing but sing for the good of others.” Boo is abused by his father and grows up indoors lacking any social skills, resulting in him being likened by the townsfolk to somewhat of a ghost. Ewell chooses to go after the kids, as revenge after Atticus Finch humiliated him by shredding down what little credibility he had before the trial. After learning about the attack, Sheriff Heck Tate says to Atticus, “Let the dead bury the dead Mr Finch.” Tate is alluding to the fact that Ewell’s unnaturally cruel and malicious nature got what was coming to him, and that it best to leave it at that, and not bring Boo Radley into the spotlight. Lee incorporates this unexpected event to highlight human nature, that there are bad people out there who make poor decisions. Atticus’ fatal flaw comes to the fore, where he underestimates Ewell and does not believe that he is capable of something as immoral as targeting Scout and Jem, which foreshadows what will come to pass. Lee shows the reader that different people react in different ways and that we should always be cautious of the world that we live in because just as there is light, there is also darkness.

Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ demonstrates important lessons about the reality of discrimination and racial injustice. Tom Robinson’s trial, the encounter with Dolphus Raymond, and Bob Ewell’s sudden attack are all used skillfully by Lee to convey her message. The trial teaches her audience about just how instinctive and natural this deep-rooted prejudice has become to many, Dill and Scout’s meeting with Raymond brings to the fore the lengths that people are forced to go to in order to escape this wave of discrimination, and also how slow and hard-won the fight against racism has been, especially in the southern American states during the Great Depression and Jim Crow Era. Bob Ewell’s assault on Jem and Scout Finch carries an important message about not underestimating what people are capable of, especially in the testing times that Lee’s characters found themselves in. Human nature involves both good and evil, but as shown by Ewell’s example, sinister intentions have sinister endings. Lee challenges us to stand up and fight for equality, a fight which by no means is coming to an end. She encourages us to take a stand against the systematic racism that can be embedded into our modern life, in judicial systems, sporting fields and even the classroom. Even seemingly light-hearted discriminatory jokes can go a long way towards strengthening the roots of the unwanted weed that is racism, as humanity continues to fight towards an equal world, as God envisioned it. To quote the words of Scout Finch, “I think there’s just one type of folks, folks.”

Kia ora Jess

A great essay in many ways - really nice discussion, glimmers of insight and a really clear sense of author’s purpose.

What would lift this is a bit more analysis around what is unexpected about the events - you do not really have any analysis of why the event might be unexpected for the reader - although in the first paragraph you do discuss why it was unexpected for the characters. I would go back through and just unpack this a little more, especially in body para 2 and 3 - it is really important that you discuss the question the way that is is worded (unexpected) rather than just tacking the key words in. If you go through and are clearer about that then this would be overall a very insightful essay, and thus an E.

1 Like