During the 1930’s, there was a significant amount of racial inequality in the South. Black people were considered unequal compared to white people resulting in mistreatment and abuse. Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, displays her opinion about social inequality through a variety of different characters who exhibit courage through everyday life. In Lee’s novel, one character, Mrs. Maudie who is a friend to Jem and Scout explains the meaning of a mockingbird as the following: “they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us” (Lee, 1960, p.90). These characters, such as the Finch family, although quite different in their lifestyles, go against the social norm of treating African Americans as second class citizens. Harper Lee uses the symbol of a mockingbird in the 1930’s to exemplify the courage of a common lawyer and his fight against social prejudice in order to change society.
Atticus Finch believes in the equality and justice of all people no matter their color or family background. Atticus lives in Maycomb, Alabama, along with his children, Jem and Scout. Atticus is the county lawyer and was assigned by Judge Taylor to defend Tom Robinson who was accused of raping Mayella Ewell (Lee, 1960, p.163). Steven Lubert who wrote Reconstructing Atticus Finch says that “Atticus Finch saves us by providing a moral archetype, by reflecting nobility upon us, and by having the courage to meet the standards that we set for ourselves but can seldom attain.” (p. 1340). Atticus is a courageous character who displays the characteristic of morality and stands up for people who are considered second class. Atticus knows that he will be defeated in court, but tries anyway since it is the right thing to do.
Atticus fights hard in court and gives the readers a firm example of how to treat the stereotypical thought of black people. Atticus fights hard, and shows the town what true courage is and how to fight against social prejudice.
Harper Lee develops throughout her novel the meaning of the mockingbird through two individual characters that are looked down upon by others in everyday reality. Tom Robinson is an honest man black man who works hard to support his family (Lee, 1960, p.197). Tom was accused of raping and beating Mayela Ewell, a white woman (Lee, 1960, p.123). Mayela Ewell was the daughter of Bob Ewell; they were quite poor because her father failed to do the duties that a good father should do. They were considered to be white trash of their society. Although there was little proof of this accusation, most people believed in the raping because of their stereotypical thought of black people in that era. This shows the value of black people because although being the white trash of the society, most people stood up for her.
Arthur Radley, commonly known as Boo, exemplifies a mockingbird in how he finally emerges from his reclusiveness and saves Jem and Scout. Boo is an odd recluse who stabbed his father as a young boy...