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Please can I have some feedback for my 'To Kill a Mockingbird' Essay (:

Analyse how specific events reinforced your understanding of one or more ideas

Authors use specific events as valuable tools in their novels to reinforce the readers’ understanding of the injustice of racism and discrimination. In Harper Lee’s, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, she influences understanding in the readers through many specific events that reflect the injustice of discrimination and racism within a small community.

These specific events occur in the small and narrow-minded town of Maycomb, Alabama, in the 1930s during the Great Depression. Harper Leee uses events to show the injustice of racism and or/discrimination when Atticus Finch (a lawyer who is defending the case of Tom Robinson, an innocent black man falsely accused of rape) teaches his children Jem and Scout Finch that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird, when a large group of white men try to lynch Tom Robinson, and when Tom is found guilty at court. Readers become aware of the bigger picture and realise that Maycomb is deeply racist, discriminatory, and have backwards attitudes.

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ was written in the 1960s when Harper Lee observed the American Civil rights movement which was significant to change in American society. Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, and others were all a part of the public landscape fighting for racial equality. Lee’s audience would have been aware of the events as they read her novel and would have seen real-life parallels in their society. In this way, Lee contributed to the Civil Rights movement by highlighting important issues that were easy to understand and emphasised the possibility for positive change and racial harmony. Unfortunately, 60 years later, despite improvements, America still suffers from some racial equality.

A significant event that reinforces the readers’ understanding of the injustice of racism and/or discrimination is when Jem and Scout’s uncle Jack comes to visit and gives them air rifles for Christmas. Atticus teaches his children that mockingbirds are innocent - they merely sing and bring people joy. 'Atticus said to Jem one day, "I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em. But remember, it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird’. Atticus is actually teaching Jem that it is evil to discriminate against innocent people. This links to Tom Robinson - he is a mockingbird because he is innocent. When Tom Robinson is found guilty of rape, it is a sin. Therefore, racism is a sin. Harper Lee chooses the words carefully because she is actually speaking to her readers who lived in the difficult times of the civil rights movement.

Furthermore, a significant event that reinforces the readers’ understanding of the injustice of racism and/or discrimination is when a mob of white men try to lynch Tom Robinson, however, they find Atticus sitting with a lamp and reading at the front door of the jail where Tom is kept. ‘You know what we want’ another man said. ‘Get aside from the door, Mr Finch’. The racism in Maycomb shows potential for violence for the first time. Harper Lee prepares the readers for Tom Robinson’s trial, she foreshadows the injustice to come. Lee uses Atticus’ lamp light as a symbol of what is just. The fact that Atticus Is illuminated by light is symbolic that he is shedding light on the prejudice in Maycomb as he fights for justice. Atticus is an oasis of morality amidst the darkness of sin in Maycomb.

Finally, another significant event that reinforces the readers’ understanding of the injustice of racism and/or discrimination is when Tom Robinson is found guilty at the Maycomb county court. Jem firmly believes that Tom is going to be found innocent and that Atticus will win the trial. ‘and we’re gonna win Scout. I don’t see how we can’t’.’ This shows Jem’s innocence - he believes that good always triumphs over evil. He can plainly see that all the evidence to Tom’s innocence is obvious and that he didn’t do anything to Mayella (the white woman who accused him of rape) Yet, he is incredibly blind to the fact that good doesn’t always win and that the all-white jury is so racist that they found Tom guilty even though there was no evidence to support this.

When Tom is found guilty, Jem’s innocence is destroyed and the readers see the true injustice of racism and discrimination in Maycomb. ‘His hands were white gripping the balcony rail, and his shoulders jerked as if each ‘guilty’ was a separate stab between them.’ This dialogue and quote show that Jem is shocked when confronted by the harsh injustice of his racist society. Racism has triumphed and the whole meaning of “equality” in court goes out the window. The jury was blind to the truth because of their backwards and racist attitudes.

Harper Lee is showing the readers that racial prejudice is deeply intertwined into Maycomb’s history and so many people are infected and influenced by it. The verdict of Tom’s trial shows the true injustice of racism and discrimination. Because of the jury’s racist attitudes and mindsets, Tom’s whole life is ruined. This links to the case of the Scottsboro nine in Alabama, 1931, when nine black teenagers were falsely accused of raping two white women on a train, and then executed. This shows how dangerous and evil racism is and just like in Tom Robinson’s trial, the Scottsboro case also had an all-white jury and they were all found guilty despite evidence for innocence.

In conclusion, throughout Harper Lee’s masterpiece, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ - the readers’ understanding of the injustice of racism and discrimination are reinforced through events such as Atticus teaching Jem that it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird, when the lynch mob come after Tom Robinson but Atticus is sitting outside the jail, and during Tom’s court case where he is found guilty. These events show the evil of discrimination and racism within a community. Maycomb was revealed to be evil and corrupt, and Harper Lee shows her readers that racism and discrimination s extremely dangerous and unjust.

Kia ora

Your paragraphs about the events themselves could be unpacked more - eg your first discussion of the event has some good evidence, but you have not really unpacked how it reinforces an idea (though you mention in topic sentence it reinforces understanding of injustice of racism) - HOW does it do this though - unpack what the reader feels and thinks as a response to this event - what does it reinforce about the injustice? Reinforcing generally means that it makes an idea stronger - you might want to consider what we might already know about the injustice or discrimination and how this event sheds new light on that understanding.

You have a good understanding of the etxt - and a lot of info in here that is not tied directly to the question - for example about the context of the novel etc. This would become stronger if you could weave it in together, so all of this info is being used to support your argument/answer to the question “events” "“reinforce understanding of ideas”.

Definitely on the right track and a lot of good stuff in here - well done :slight_smile: