Common Themes In To Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee

870 words - 4 pages

The death of a black man, the attack of two children, and a man locked up for so long he cannot remember what life was like before all seem unrelated, however they are not. They are all examples of a common theme throughout the book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, victims of what a main character implores his kids not to do. In To Kill a Mockingbird, two plotlines coincide; two children, Scout and Jem Finch are growing up with a fascination of their recluse neighbor, Arthur “Boo” Radley, and a black man named Tom Robinson is put on trial for the rape of a white woman. The book takes place in a small southern community during the Great Depression, and the scene heavily affects the events throughout the book. For example, in a modern, urban environment a man would not buy his children air rifles and allow them to shoot as they please. However, since it was a common thing at the time, this is precisely what Atticus does for his children. Before they are allowed to go out, Atticus does tell them one thing: that they must never shoot a mockingbird because it is a sin. When the kids question this, it is elaborated that mockingbirds are innocent, and never put anything but good into the world, so it is a sin to kill them. This theme continues to pop up in different ways throughout the book, and it is exemplified by major characters and events throughout the plotline.
One character that shows the theme that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird is Tom Robinson. As previously mentioned, he was a married black man who was accused of the rape of a nineteen year old white woman named Mayella Ewell. Before and during his trial, he was subject to harsh treatment and excessive cruelty. The lawyer cross-examining him even went so far as to outwardly accuse him as being guilty and then call him impudent simply for denying his guilt (224-225). Despite all of this, Tom remained calm and told his side of the story as the reader can see as true. Throughout the trial, the entire courtroom is made aware of several facts; that Tom Robinson’s left arm is handicapped (211), that Mayella Ewell was injured on the right side of her face, where she would have been punched by a left-handed man (192), and that her father, Bob Ewell, was left handed (211). Every reliable piece of evidence shared, circumstantial or otherwise, was in Tom’s favor. However, when the verdict came back, the jury...

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