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To Kill A Mockingbird Themes Essay

906 words - 4 pages

Michael Harrington states “To be a Negro is to participate in a culture of poverty and fear that goes far deeper than any law for or against discrimination.... After the racist statutes are all struck down, after legal equality has been achieved in the schools and in the courts, there remains the profound institutionalized and abiding wrong that white America has worked on the Negro for so long.” (Frank 697). Racism plays a extensive role in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. The American dream is to live free and racism stops that for African Americans. Three main themes in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee are prejudice and tolerance, knowledge and ignorance, and courage and cowardice.
In To Kill a Mockingbird, prejudice and tolerance is a prime theme. In the 1950s, African Americans is forced to sit in the back of the bus, is not allowed to serve on the jury; nor could they sit with white spectators, and they have to attend separate churches (Bernard 76-77). Prejudice and tolerance is shown when Atticus has to take on a case that involves a black man who is faulty accused of rapping a white girl. Tom Robinson is the black man accuse of the crime, in which he is found guilty (Bernard 49). The people sends an innocent man to jail because of the color of the skin. There is hate and fear for the members of the jury during the case of Tom Robinson. Atticus tells his children (Scout and Jem) that any white man who takes an advantage of a black man’s ignorance is “trash” (Telgen 292). In To Kill a Mockingbird, Ewell is a man who lives in a shake on the outskirts of town, unable to provide for his family. He blames African Americans for his own problems. He wishes to destroy their lives like they did him. Ewell is a good example of prejudice (Bernard 77).
Prejudice and tolerance is not the only main theme in To Kill a Mockingbird, another is knowledge and ignorance. On the first day of school, Scout already knows how to read. The teacher notices too and tries to make her slow down but she begs different. When her father (Atticus) finds out, he makes a broad statement: “Educators will gravely tell you, the children left behind suffer terrible feeling of inferiority. We know all men are not create equal in the sense that some people are smarter than other... Some people are born gifted beyond the normal scope of most men.” Calpurnia believes that there is two kinds of knowledge. The kind you can read from a book and the kind that is commonly called “wisdom”. In To Kill a Mockingbird, knowledge and ignorance also plays a roll in the Tom Robinson case. “Atticus Finch acknowledges evil when he says ‘the witnesses for the...

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