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'To kill a mocking bird'

  1. Analyse how the strengths and / or weaknesses of one or more characters reinforced a message.

‘To kill a Mockingbird’ is set in the small town of Maycomb Alabama, in the 1930s. Harper Lee grew up in Alabama and observed the civil rights movement during the 1930s which had led to massive changes in American society. Other people such as Martin Luther King jr, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, and many others were a part of the movement in order to fight for social justice and racial equality. She wrote her one and the only novella ‘To kill a mockingbird’ which she thought was a good idea as there was a lot of discrimination, racism, and criticism, but what can we learn from this today and use in our day to day lives?

In her masterpiece, Harper Lee used a variety of themes, characters, events, language features, and relationships throughout the novel. There are a lot of important messages and learning purposes but what can we really learn from this today? But something that was important was how the strengths and weaknesses of the characters reinforced a message to her audience.

Firstly I believe that Mayella is a perfect example as she is a very important character in the novel, who is one of the weaker characters but most important, because Mayella was only educated until year 3 and probably only learned A, B, Cs, she is now nineteen years old, therefore she does not know much about life and what and how to live life because she is not educated enough.
She lives behind the town dump with her family, they live on a benefit and Bob Ewell her father spends the money on alcohol instead, which could be spent on things such as education, some nice fresh food, and other things which could help them in their day to day lives.

Although Mayella is not educated enough she still does not know much, she sees Tom and is attracted to him even though he is a married man, she then makes a very smart but stupid plan, she starts saving money for about a year in order to send her siblings to the store to get ice cream, and then tricks Tom in the house, “err can ya help me really quick with somethin”, little does he know that he is about to be trapped in a massive mousetrap, I mean human trap, therefore Harper Lee uses Mayella as an example to her readers that education is very important, a quote used by Malcolm X who was part of the Civil rights movement,
“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today,”

I absolutely believe that Tom Robinson is innocent.
Because as Mayella stated in the courtroom that she was punched repetitively, but if you are being punched you would not stay there as some sort of punching bag you would try to run away especially if it’s Tom as his left-hand does not work due to a childhood injury and it is believed she was strangled as well. It is also believed that she was punched by someone who is left-handed and that person is very likely to be Bob Ewell, her father.
She also stated that she screamed “He hit me over and over again. I asked him to stop but…but he didn’t and I screamed as loud as I possibly could.”
From all statements and facts that I still believe that Tom Robinson is innocent because there was no such evidence to prove him guilty he was just weakened by the color of his skin. “Injustice anywhere is justice everywhere.” - Martin Luther King jr

Harper Lee used Atticus Finch as one of the characters as his strength reinforced a message.
Atticus Finch a white man stood up to take Tom Robinson’s case when no one else did, he had to stand against his family and the whole town because no one else wanted to take the case because Tom is a black man and they think that every black man is a criminal even though he was completely innocent.
Atticus knew that Tom was innocent therefore he had to stand up for him and the black society and Atticus has to do the right thing when no one else is because he has integrity and doesn’t judge a book by its cover. Even though he knows that he will lose he still stands up which gives Tom and all the black people some hope. This shows that not all white people are the same and that we should always stand up for what’s right, even if we are going to lose. “We need more light about each other, light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity”. - Malcolm X

In conclusion, Harper Lee uses the characters such as Tom Robinson, Mayella Ewell, and Atticus Finch in order to demonstrate to her audience and make them think how a weakness or strength of a character can reinforce a message.

Kia ora - welcome to Studyit!

Try to set up your argument a little more in the intro - you do use the key words from the question, but this would benefit from a clear set up of WHAT the strengths and weaknesses of WHICH character reinforce a specific message.

Be careful with your structure - I would have it so one full paragraph is on Mayella, one on Atticus and potentially another on someone else - at the moment it seems to jump into new paragraphs in random places through the middle.

You have come back to the idea of a message in each of these which is good - could you tease out this message a little more though? You talk about for example, the idea that not all white people are the same (shown by atticus) - could this be unpacked? That one can overcome the society that they live in to do the right thing by others? What can we as the reader take away? What could we have taken away if we read it at the time it was written? Develop more.

There is a bit in the middle where you are talking about Tom RObinson being innocent that it not really unpacking the strength/weakness of a character, or a wider idea - try to keep the whole essay focused towards the question - I would revisit this section and consider whether you could change it so you are analysing these parts more in relation to the question.

Well done - a good understanding - Give it a go with another question and come back for some more feedback if you like :slight_smile: