To Kill A Mockingbird: Lesson About Societal Injustices
Ever since Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird in 1960, it has received criticism for its controversial content and characters. However, this essay will refute those claims and explain why it is crucial that our society addresses the concerns presented in this book. The main social justice concerns in To Kill a Mockingbird are racial, economic, and societal and will be addressed in their respective sections of this essay. The racial issues are seen throughout the book, but mainly in the end of the first half and the second half of the book. This depicts Atticus defending a black man, Tom Robinson, who is accused of raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell. The economic issues are seen throughout the book, but this essay will focus on the beginning chapters of the book where Scout goes to school and meets many different families with differing economic statuses. Lastly, the societal issues this essay will be focusing on will be about Tom Robinson, the Ewells, and Boo Radley. In conclusion, this essay will talk about Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and how the various concerns in this book can relate back to our society.
The racial issues are quite apparent in To Kill a Mockingbird through many characters such as Bob Ewell, Calpurnia, and Atticus. Bob Ewell is the epitome of a racist, ignorant, mean person in the South during the 1930s. His family is even described as the “disgrace of Maycomb” (16) by Atticus, who is the moral teacher for Scout and a generally kind and ethical person. He blames the rape of his daughter on Tom Robinson, an innocent black man, and afterwards tries to get revenge on the people who weren’t on his side. He shows the issues of ignorant people in relationships between different groups of people in communities such as Maycomb. Just like how Atticus tells Scout about Burris Ewell, people like Bob are unwilling to compromise and they impose hate on people that aren’t like them.
Calpurnia is the Finch house maid and the mother figure for Scout. She embodies the link between white and black people in Maycomb, as she shows a linguistic dichotomy between when she talks to white people (such as Scout or Atticus) and black people (such as Lula from First Purchase). Her character shows that different groups of people can be together without harboring any hate for each other. Atticus is the father of Scout and Jem and is the moral backbone of Maycomb, as he agrees to defend Tom Robinson even though other people hate him for doing so. He represents an unbiased, morally sound individual who doesn’t care about what society thinks is right and does what he believes is right and will help others. To summarize, the racial issues in To Kill a Mockingbird are represented by characters in the book, and these characters provide a model for people in our current society which shows what not to be like (Bob Ewell) and what to be like (Calpurnia and Atticus).
The economic issues in To Kill a Mockingbird mainly come from the Great Depression of the 1930s, as it left millions poor and unemployed. Going off this, there are many characters in this book that show economic issues that can relate to our current day. Some of these characters include Walter Cunningham, Mr. Cunningham, and Bob Ewell. Walter Cunningham is very poor as shown in the beginning chapters of the book. He doesn’t have shoes or a lunch on his first day of school, and cannot repay a quarter to his teacher, Miss Caroline. He also pours molasses all over his food which makes Scout angry, but Calpurnia teaches her a lesson about not judging others because they’re different. He serves as the gateway to economic issues in To Kill a Mockingbird, which many others in Maycomb have. Mr. Cunningham is, not surprisingly, Walter Cunningham’s father and also poor. He doesn’t have money to pay for things like Atticus’s legal help, so he pays him in crops instead. Although he seems like a good person, he is part of the mob that tries to lynch Tom Robinson the night before the trial. However, Scout mentions his son to Mr. Cunningham and he leaves along with the mob. This shows that Mr. Cunningham is a poor individual who cares about his son, but he has flaws such as being prejudiced. Burris Ewell, the son of Bob Ewell, is also a person who shows economic problems in To Kill a Mockingbird. He is a Ewell, which is a family even poorer than the Cunninghams. He introduces the Ewells to the story as poor, ignorant, mean people as he trash-talks Miss Caroline in the beginning of the book and storms out of school on the first day. He is the epitome of a less endowed person who doesn’t care about others and doesn’t have any ambition to change their life. In summation, there are many economic issues in To Kill a Mockingbird which can be seen in certain characters such as Walter Cunningham, Mr. Cunningham, and Burris Ewell.
The societal issues in To Kill a Mockingbird are perhaps the most important issues in this book, as it encompasses both race and economy. Tom Robinson is a very obvious victim of social issues, because he is discriminated for being black. He is accused of rape and was given a trial with a very biased jury. Even though Atticus’s defense was nearly flawless, he is found guilty and sent to prison where he is killed for trying to run away. He was powerless against the white people in his community that were prejudiced against him, and Atticus even says, “As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life” (117). This shows that Tom Robinson is a victim of social injustice just because of his race. The Ewells, even though they seem like a bunch of racist, ignorant people, are also victims of social injustice. This is because their father didn’t raise them right and raised them in a filthy environment which made most of them illiterate troublemakers. Mayella, the most civil of them all, has to suffer her father’s abuse and the inability to do anything about her situation. These factors show that the Ewells are all victims of social injustice because of their father. Lastly, Boo Radley is a victim of social injustice as he is given the reputation of a murderer for little to no reason. Boo is locked in his house by his family so they don’t have to worry about him, when he is actually a kind person who cares about good people like Scout and Jem. However, he has a happy ending as he is shown to have saved Scout and Jem from Bob Ewell and his actions were justified by Heck Tate, the county sheriff. To summarize, social issues make up most of the issues of To Kill a Mockingbird whether it be because of race (Tom Robinson), upbringing (the Ewells), or previous actions (Boo Radley). These three issues can relate to today’s world, as they still are visible in society and others judge people for having these issues.
The social justice issue that my project is covering is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is the ongoing struggle between Israelis and Palestinians that began in the mid-20th century over the Holy Land (an area roughly located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea in the Middle East). The points brought up in this essay about To Kill a Mockingbird’s issues can be used to ease the peace process. First, the issue of race is a major issue in this conflict, as it is two groups of people fighting over the same piece of land because they believe in different things. If the Israelis and Palestinians can come to an agreement that it’s okay to believe in different religions and that both groups of people can live and worship on the same land, then a solution would be much more of a possibility. Second, the economic issues in To Kill a Mockingbird are mainly due to the Great Depression and there is no economic downturn in the current point of history, so this essay will talk about the economic lengths that have been taken to make agreements between Israel and Palestine. While Israel is ranked 19th in GDP, Palestine is ranked in the bottom 100. Although there is an economic disparity between the two, there has been some progress. Many Israeli technology companies have employed Palestinian employees and bilateral trade has increased in the past decade. Lastly, the societal issues in To Kill a Mockingbird are about certain groups of people that get prejudiced because they are different than the majority (African-Americans, the Ewells, and the Radleys). Similarly, the societal issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are about the Israeli majority and the Palestinian minority not getting along and putting prejudices on each other. The best solution for these issues would be to first accept each other’s differences in beliefs and share the land with each other rather than one group owning all of the land. In conclusion, the issues brought up in To Kill a Mockingbird can be used in current day, using the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an example.
In conclusion, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee contains many social justice issues through its characters that can correlate to present day. These issues are racial, economical, and societal, and are expressed through characters such as Bob Ewell, the Cunninghams, and Boo Radley, respectively. These issues can relate to a present day issue such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and can be used to better achieve peace. This is why it is so crucial that we as a strong society take lessons from To Kill a Mockingbird and use it in our lives to improve the lives of not just us, but everyone.
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