Empathy And Social Change In To Kill A Mockingbird, Milk, And Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner

1846 words - 7 pages

Empathy and Social Change in To Kill a Mockingbird, Milk, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner Empathy: “The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experiences fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner” (according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary). When we think of social change, several of the themes in the literature we have discussed are based upon this concept of empathy. In To Kill a Mockingbird, there’s the repetition of the idea that you should stand in someone’s shoes before judging them. In Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, we see a liberal family who finds it difficult to accept interracial marriage when having to personally deal with the issue. In Milk, Harvey discusses how the gay movement has a better chance if more people come out, where if each person knows at least one “homosexual” there’s a better chance of the movement gaining public approval. For social change to occur, one needs to be aware of and sensitive to the issues at hand, and conscious of how everyone’s lives are differently affected in one way or another. Empathy is an important vehicle for creating lasting social change.
In To Kill a Mockingbird, we see a father who continuously promotes a principle of empathy to his children as a way for them to understand and approach important issues that affect people’s daily lives. For example, several times throughout the novel we see Atticus telling his children that you can “never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” (lee 33). Atticus’s character continuously lives by and emphasizes this model. He wants his children to be empathetic and understanding towards others, especially those who are different from them. He begins teaching them this empathetic way of thinking while they are still young and free of prejudices, in hopes that this advice will become embedded into who they are and therefore unconsciously conveyed.
We see how this empathetic approach is further transmitted to Jem and Scout in the scene when the children to go Calpurnia’s church and experience her way of life first hand. Before this experience, Jem and Scout had a narrow view of the African American community and the degree of segregation that existed. When they went to Cal’s church, the children experienced a sort of culture shock, where they quickly realized how different their lives were from people like Cal, where for the first time they were the minority. They also realized that Cal “led a modest double life” (lee 142), where the way she acted around them, was different from the way she acted around those of her community. The fact that Cal could read and speak “correctly,” yet didn’t put herself above others that were illiterate,...

Find Another Essay On Empathy and Social Change in To Kill a Mockingbird, Milk, and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

To Kill a Mockingbird and A Time to Kill: Comparisons

1198 words - 5 pages In this essay I will discuss three overarching topics and the differences and similarities they show between the film "A Time to Kill" which stars Samuel L. Jackson and Matthew McConaughey and the novel To Kill a Mockingbird which is written by Harper Lee. These overarching topics will be racial prejudice, justice, and morality. I will discuss racial prejudice's role in the court proceedings as well as state what would have occured had Carl

Mythology and Archetypes in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

2786 words - 11 pages Mythology and Archetypes in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird       Of all the various approaches to criticism, the Mythological/Archetypal achieves the greatest impact over the entire literary scope, because the themes and patterns unearthed apply universally to all works, yielding results that can be applied to a great many texts. This is because the very nature of the Mythological/Archetypal approach is the exploration of the

Themes of Prejudice and Tolerance in To Kill a Mockingbird

816 words - 3 pages The book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a Pulitzer Prize winning novel. It is set in the 1930s, a time when racism was very prominent. Harper Lee emphasizes the themes of prejudice and tolerance in her novel through the use of her characters and their interactions within the Maycomb community. The narrator of the story, Scout, comes across many people and situations with prejudice and tolerance, as her father defends a black man

"To Kill a Mockingbird" Summary and diction

746 words - 3 pages with it and understand it. As well as helping with social skills, he also teaches her racism and the lessons of life.The book constantly refers to a mockingbird, a bird that is peaceful that never harmed anybody someone similar to Boo Radley. "Mr. Radley ran screaming into the street that Arthur was killing them all, but when the sheriff arrived he found Boo still sitting in the living room, cutting up the Tribune."(Lee11) This and many false

Growth and Maturity in To Kill a Mockingbird

1077 words - 4 pages Building Blocks of Growth and Maturity In To Kill a Mockingbird Throughout the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, many characters develop and mature in unique ways. Boo, who fears talking to others, Aunt Alexandra, who is against people of other races or social classes, and Scout, who is young and is not aware of life’s challenges, constantly suppress their emotions and personality. Their life choices and decisions

Prejudice and discrimination in "To Kill a Mockingbird"

5933 words - 24 pages Lee grew up and with Truman Capote, her childhood friend"(42). This novel includes autobiographical information because; there are similarities between her life and characters in her novel.To Kill a Mockingbird takes place in southern Alabama in the 1930's, the time and place of an extremely discriminated society. Barbieri says "In the early twentieth century, the United States was experiencing social change. Slavery had been abolished decades

Learning and Developing in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

1367 words - 5 pages how Boo feels and changes his attitude towards Boo.The 3 children learn and develop through the course of the novel, and they change in different and similar ways and in different extremities. Harper Lee conveys their changes through events and people around the children, and we can see and understand their noticeable changes.Sources used: To Kill A Mockingbird book

To Kill a Mockingbird: Irony and Sarcasm

1410 words - 6 pages method was showing the view through a growing child's (Scout Finch) mind, eyes, ears, and mouth. There is another very significant method that was used. In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee utilizes the effects of irony, sarcasm, and hypocrisy to criticize a variety of elements in Southern life.Harper Lee employs the effects of irony in To Kill a Mockingbird as a way to criticize the deficiency of public education. "Now tell your father not

Maturity and Immaturity Shown in To Kill A Mockingbird

822 words - 3 pages more trouble for lying. This example proves that owning up to your mistakes is very important and can be helpful in the long run in becoming a responsible adult. Harper Lee displays this very valuable lesson in the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Certain characters show maturity in the story by acknowledging their mistakes and learning from them in order to prevent bigger problems in the future and allowing them to take responsibility for their

Currency and Coinage values in Maycomb. (To Kill a Mockingbird)

918 words - 4 pages section of your Survival Guide to Maycomb; you have learned everything you need to know about Maycomb’s currency and coinage values. Now you will able to talk to particular people in the right way and avoid awkward situations like Miss. Caroline on page 21! Now you can go out and use your money with confidence!Bibliography:To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Leehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coins_of_the_United_States_dollarhttp://www.myschoolhouse.com/courses/O/1/11.asphttp://www.enchantedlearning.com/math/money/coins/

To Kill a Mockingbird: Racism and Prejudice

765 words - 3 pages Prejudice has caused the pain and suffering of others for many centuries. Some examples of this include the Holocaust and slavery in the United States. In To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, racism was the cause of much agony to the blacks of a segregated South. Along with blacks, other groups of people are judged unfairly just because of their difference from others. The prejudice and bigotry of society causes the victimization of people with

Similar Essays

Listening Goals And Communication In The Film Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner

1309 words - 5 pages Guess who’s coming to Dinner A Review of Literature and Film Clip Listening and responding to others has a major role to play in good communication and as such, satisfy their own purposes in life. People communicate with each other for getting information across, for learning and evaluating purposes, for listening and observation purposes or for mere enjoyment or recreation. However, it is a well known fact, that no two people listen

Compare & Contrast. "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner" & "Guess Who." (Old Movies Are Making A Comeback)

615 words - 2 pages Old Movies are Making a Comeback.Could you ever imagine falling in love with some who is different from you? However, your parents will not allow you to marry him/her. How would you feel? Nowadays many old time movies are coming back, in newer versions. For example, movies that were popular back in the 70's and 80's are now being redone with better special effects, and even sometimes the movies change their plot. In the movie Guess Who's Coming

"Coming Of Age" Theme In Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird

1714 words - 7 pages . Somethingimpossible, after all his has seen and been through. The theme coming of age is foundover and over again in literature, but each time we learn something new. Humankind toocomes of age with each new story, facing the universal process of coming of age to repeatitself throughout a lifetime.Furthermore, Harper Lee's novel To Kill A Mockingbird is one of the bestcoming of age stories ever written. It is a sensitive, touching portrayal of a

Social Class And Family Groups In To Kill A Mockingbird

1085 words - 4 pages How far do you think Harper Lee has effectively shown social class and family groups to be important at that time? The rigid class structure and social stratification of Maycomb County had a profound effect on the events in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The impact of this class structure was especially evident in the trial of Tom Robins on, a Maycomb Negro. The extreme prejudice of the town eventually led to the unjust