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The Metamorphosis Of Character Essay

1714 words - 7 pages

The way in which humans come to be understanding, compassionate individuals is a process demonstrated constantly throughout To Kill a Mockingbird, a famous novel written by Harper Lee, taking place in the 1930’s during the Great Depression in Maycomb County, Alabama. The story is told from the young Jean Louise “Scout” Finch’s perspective, and tracks the development of her and her older brother Jeremy Atticus “Jem” Finch, from innocent to understanding. The negative influences which Jem and Scout experience, including the racially charged case of Tom Robinson, lead the children to have a new, more experienced perspective on human nature. People like Atticus Finch, Jem and Scout’s father, ...view middle of the document...

Jem and Scout realize Mr. Ewell’s disrespectful actions and try not to let his sinful nature erode their personalities. After Tom Robinson is convicted in his trial, Jem retreats into a state of depression and disillusionment, and thus asks his father, “How could they do it, how could they,” (243). Jem is extremely upset by this, and it makes him come to the realization that true evil does exist; he will just have to figure out how to include it into his general understanding of humanity. The children learn that Mr. Ewell, despite his immoral nature, can still be dealt with and somewhat evaded through the understanding and appreciation of his character. Mr. Ewell ultimately displays his vice through his actions, such as when he spits directly in Atticus’s face after the trial, and Atticus wishes, “…Bob Ewell wouldn’t chew tobacco,” (217). On top of the fact that Mr. Ewell tends to retaliate, and most certainly does not take care of his hygiene, testifying to his gaunt appearance. Jem and Scout acknowledge the fact that Mr. Ewell is completely divergent from Atticus in his morals, because Atticus himself would not have reacted in such a puerile way. Not to mention, Mr. Ewell attempts to kill Jem and Scout, tries to rob the judge’s house, and threatens Tom Robinson’s wife, all demonstrating his proclivities for cruelty. Mr. Ewell’s unlawful accusation of Tom Robinson in the trial displays his cruel, dark nature, and causes Jem and Scout to become cognizant of the fact that not all humans show kind actions toward one another. Above all, Mr. Ewell is a source of negative insight for the children, forcing them to grasp this sad truth about humanity.
Conversely, the high-minded nature of humans is manifested by the existence of Atticus, who brings a balance to the story that is displayed from the beginning. Atticus is a quiet, humble man who works to the best of his ability given his limited resources, and resolutely supports Tom Robinson’s side of the case, riling up his community imbued with discrimination. Without Atticus, the story would lose its equilibrium, and Jem and Scout would most definitely discard any insight they had into respecting humans for their unique qualities. Atticus supports the fact that, “Thomas Jefferson once said that all men are created equal,” (233), and he tries to use this saying to bolster his argument throughout the trial. Jem and Scout respect the fact that their father is so supportive of equality, but because Maycomb County is already so biased against the black race, nothing Atticus said could have made a difference. After the trial comes to an end, Atticus tries to help the children process the evil essence of Bob Ewell: “Jem, see if you can stand in Bob Ewell's shoes a minute ... if spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that's something I'll gladly take,” (249). Atticus’s calm, thoughtful nature reinforces for Jem and Scout the significance of their father’s...

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