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To kill a mocking bird essay

Authors often use the experiences of characters in their novels to comment on society. Harper Lee’s, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, uses Jem Finch (the son of lawyer Atticus) as that character through the transition from childhood to adulthood and the loss of innocence. 

Harper Lee’s ‘To kill a mockingbird’ is set in the fictional town of Maycomb Alabama during the great depression in the late 1930s. Harper Lee wrote the novel to show the readers moral values. She did this by making Scout the main character and illastrator and Jem, her brother,Seemingly innocent, because they had not yet seen the evil this early in their lives. 

 Jem’s ideals are shaken badly by the evil and injustice that he perceives during the trial of Tom Robinson. Tom Robinson is one of the novel’s mocking birds which symbolises how his innocence was destroyed by evil and that he does no harm to society. His trial was lead by the misconception of Mayella Ewell’s rape accusations. Mayella Ewell makes a selfish decision to falsely accuse Tom Robinson of raping her with a large lack in evindence,  testifying that Tom attacked her on the porch and sexually assaulted her after she had asked him to help break down a chiffarobe. Mayella claims to have woken up to her father standing over her. Mayella's father, Bob Ewell, Is a cruel, mean, racist and abusive man. When Tom went inside with Mayella she made it obvious of her attraction for him and threw herself at him.Bob had seen this through the window and ended up beating his daughter. Bob knows full well Tom’s innocent but accuses him of rape for the benifits of his own social standing. Atticus Finch is Tom's lawyer and states a lot of information to the jury that makes it obvious that Toms innocent. During the victim’s testimomony, the beating she took during the rape resulted in the right side of her face being bruised.

 It was also claimed that there were two sets of visible finger marks on her neck from being strangled. The wounds were clearly the result of a left handed man. When Tom Robinson takes the stand it is visible to Atticus that Robinson's left arm is useless from getting it caught in a harvester, making it impossible for him to have administered the beating with one working arm. Later on Atticus shows Bob Ewell to be left handed by getting him to write. Because the citizens of Maycomb are racist and reluctant to change, they ignore the truth and convict Tom as guilty of raping Mayella Ewell.  This case deeply affected Jem, he didn't know how to process the injustice. Jem said “He's just gone over the evidence, and we're gonna win, I don't see how we cant”.This quotes showing that the evidence of Tom's case is so obvious even an 8 year old can see that he's innocent. After hearing the verdict, Jem is crushed by the decision and he loses a great deal of his childhood innocence. Following Tom's wrongful conviction, he is sent to Enfield prison farm, after attempting to escape the prison he is shot and “accidently” killed. 


One of the most influential events Jem experiences is when he realizes Boo Radly is reaching out to him and Scout. The first time this occurs is when he and Dill sneak onto the Radley property to try and look through the windows. Scout also tagged along unwillingly. The children then heard shots and fled in terror, Jems got his pants caught on the barbed wire fence and had to abandon them to escape. When Jem goes back to the Radly property at two in the morning to retrieve his pants he finds them neatly folded on the fence post. Jem starts communicating to Boo Radly as he suspects he's friendly. They communicated through a knothole of a tree where Radly would leave small gifts for the children but Scout wasn't convinced Radly was good. After writing a thank you letter, Jem finds the whole filled with cement. Nathan Radly, Boo Radlys brother, tells Jem that the tree is dying and needs to be filled in. Atticus informs Jem that he was lied to and that Nathan perpossly filled the knothole with cement to prevent Boo from talking to the children.




 This is an example of Atticus teaching Jem the norms of society and also a big part of Jems journey to adulthood as he protects his sister Scout when he lets her go out of the fence first on the Radley's property. Jems pocket watch he finds in the knothole is another example of his maturity and growth. Unlike Atticus who has  a pocket watch to symbolize time and social status, Jem has a pocket watch that symbolizes his respect for his father, whom he tries to emulate by wearing it around.


Mrs Dubose, the Finches' awful neighbor, disrespects Atticus and calls him names in front of Jem and Scout which made Jem furious; they did not understand why people didn't approve of Atticus defending a black man. Jem usually is able to keep his anger inside and keep himself together for Scout but this time he couldn't. He takes Scout's baton and viciously attacks Mrs Durboses prized camellia bushes. When Atticus found out he punished Jem by sending him over to Mrs Durboses to read to her, every day for a period of time. 

When Jem asks his father why he had to do this, Atticus says “I wanted you to see something about her. I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do”, referring to when atticus shoots the rabid dog. This changes Jems perspective of courage because he once thought it meant holding a weapon and now sees that no matter what people do and say there is more to them then what they first seem to be, also teaches Jem that courage is doing the right thing even if you know you'll lose. Mrs Dubose teaches Jem courage.


In conclusion Harper Lee's novel, “To kill a mockingbird”, shares a lot about what society was like in the 1930s-40s. Jems growth from childhood to adulthood is one of the most important topics in the story and I've covered three of the major influences in this essay.

Hi Lizzo

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