Studyit

To Kill A Mockingbird

  1. Analyse how key ideas were introduced in the opening of the text. “Ideas” may refer to character, theme or setting.

Harper Lee used settings to introduce key ideas in the opening of the text. In her masterpiece “To Kill a Mockingbird” the readers are introduced to key ideas such as racial discrimination, racial inequality, and racial segregation. Lee uses settings such as the courthouse, the first purchase church, the missionary circle, and Scout’s school to reinforce these ideas. Lee links the novel to the civil rights movement of which she observed while growing up in Alabama in the 1950s and 1960s.

The novel is set in Maycomb Alabama in the 1930s during the civil rights movement which led to major changes in American society. Martin Luther King jr, Rosa Parks and others were all part of the movement as they fought for racial equality. Lee’s audience would have been aware of these events as they read her novel. Lee contributed to the civil rights movement by highlighting the important issues in a manner that was easy to understand and emphasised by the possibility of change and equality. Unfortunately 160 years later, despite improvements, America still suffers from some racial inequality.

The first setting Lee uses to introduce a key idea is the courthouse, a place that is meant to uphold the law and equality to introduce a key idea. One such example comes from inside the courthouse where there is a balcony delegated to the coloured folks, Scout (daughter of Atticus, the main character) mentions, “They’re right up yonder the coloured balcony.” Lee has employed a range of imagery here. The use of the word ‘coloured’ automatically paints a picture of segregation in the courthouse. This completely defeats the purpose of equality because the spectators are segregated due to their skin colour. Scout, who is a 9-year-old girl, says this quote with such normality which tells the reader that this kind of racism is a normal happening in the town of Maycomb. Lee’s description of the courthouse concentrates the reader’s attention on the racial segregation in the town of Maycomb. Even a place which is meant to uphold strict, fair, and equal laws has racial segregation throughout. Lee uses the setting of the courthouse to highlight this key idea.

Secondly Lee uses the first purchase church, a church for the black community in Maycomb as a setting to introduce a key idea in the text. An example comes from Scout who described the church as, “An ancient paint peeled frame building.” Lee uses the technique of imagery to introduce the key idea of appearance vs reality. The readers can picture an old, ragged building that isn’t very appealing to the eye. But what the readers don’t know is that inside the church the members are rich in goodness and morality. “The collection taken up today and for the next three Sunday’s will go to Helen (Tom Robinson’s wife, a black man accused of raping a white woman) and her family.” We see here that all the money they collect up will be going towards a good cause. Lee introduces the key idea of appearance vs reality through the setting of the first purchase church. She teaches the reader to never judge a book by its cover because they don’t know what’s on the inside. The white people of Maycomb discriminate against the innocent black community, of whom may be poor but are rich in goodness and morality.

Thirdly Lee introduces the readers to the key idea of hypocrisy through the setting of the missionary circle, a group of ladies who get together to discuss issues around the world. An example of this hypocrisy is, “Mrs Merriweather was by far the most devout lady in Maycomb.” Lee also uses the technique of imagery here. The reader can picture a lady who is loyal to her faith and upholds the best and most strict morals. But what the readers soon find out is that Mrs Merriweather is a hypocrite and is blind to the racism and racial discrimination in her own town. The missionary circle looks all fancy and respectable on the outside but in fact, they are corrupt and blind to the poverty and injustice in their own backyard. “Mrs Merriweather’s large brown eyes always filled with tears when she considered the poor and oppressed.” This quote is a perfect example of the hypocrisy of the missionary circle because they do absolutely nothing about the poor and oppressed black members of their own community. The idea of appearance vs reality is also evident in this setting because not all people who look good and fancy are morally correct. Lee uses the setting of the missionary circle to challenge the readers thinking about the ideas of appearances and hypocrisy as they are very relevant in today’s world.

Lastly, the readers are introduced to the setting of Scout’s school to highlight the key idea of hypocrisy. “Over here we don’t believe in persecuting anybody.” The idea of hypocrisy is apparent in this statement. Scout’s teacher said this statement just as Tom Robinson was about to be persecuted for a crime he did not commit, all due to the colour of his skin and his place in the Maycomb society. “Persecution comes from people who are prejudiced.” Lee has used another statement here to reveal the idea of hypocrisy through the setting of Scout’s school. Scout’s teacher is named Miss Caroline Fisher, she is the stereotypical woman of the Maycomb society who is affected by the ‘racist disease’ that is rotting the ‘tired old town.’ Lee shows the readers that the racist attitudes of the Maycomb society are being taught to the young generation of the Maycomb community. The teachers are huge hypocrites and even Scout, a 9-year-old girl can notice this. The use of Scout’s school reveals the key idea of hypocrisy and the racist attitudes being passed onto the younger generation through education.

In conclusion, the use of the settings such as the courthouse, the first purchase church, the missionary circle, and Scout’s school are used to introduce key ideas to the readers. Harper Lee’s masterpiece, ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ makes the readers question their own morals and their society’s attitudes towards racism. Lee observed the civil rights movement and contributed to this cause with her excellent novel.

Kia ora Bkay
A great essay. You set up the question and where you are going to go in the introduction and establish the key ideas you are going to be discussing.
Your knowledge of the novel is sound and you use solid examples, accurate and specific, which clearly demonstrate the point you are making.
The structure is clear and builds the argument well.
Maybe one thing you could look at exploring a little further is the comment on the ideas. At the end of each body paragraph you tie to the idea
eg. The use of Scout’s school reveals the key idea of hypocrisy and the racist attitudes being passed onto the younger generation through education.
You could tease these out just a little more to show some greater insight.
Eg. hypocrisy is dangerous because sometimes the face value is taken as gospel and people don’t critically examine the truth behind the facade. Children are less likely to question and the respect they have for adults may prevent them from actually appreciating the truth and so on.
Overall a really good effort. Well done.
:+1:

Thank you for the feedback, much appreciated!