To Kill Whose Mockingbird? Essay

2054 words - 8 pages

First impressions of people are often lasting impressions, especially in the minds of children. Unfortunately, these impressions lead to hasty conclusions, thus, discrediting the individual who conveys the impression and causing the observers to inaccurately assess his true character. Many times these impressions, aided by misunderstanding and prejudgment, cause unjust discrimination against an individual. In Harper Lee's novel the standardized prejudices or misconceptions of people accepted by everyone in Maycomb limit the way its citizen's define each other's relationships. The lasting impressions of prejudice that are placed on Scout and Jem are shown to be what the tale of To Kill a Mockingbird is about. How these prejudices define and effect the people growing up around them and the slim chance they have to change the judgements from continuing on. Many people in society are looked down upon because they live differently or act in ways that are considered strange by most people. Then, their differences are labeled by neighbors watching from the outside. To Kill a Mockingbird depicts the themes of misunderstanding and prejudice, which portray Arthur (Boo) Radley as a villain. Scout, Jem and Dill receive most of their town gossip about Boo from Miss Stephanie Crawford. She tells the children of Radley's scissor attack on his father and other such interesting rumors. Thus, Arthur Radley is labeled as a "hant", a possibly insane and dangerous man, and the "malevolent phantom." Scout and other children are immersed in the prejudices of the people that surround them. Children pick up on these prejudices and become infatuated with them as Scout, Jem and Dill are. Furthermore, on top of all the misjudgments brought on by the children, the general public discriminates upon Radley, forming the children to be prejudice. "People said he went out at night when the moon was down, and peeped in windows. When people's azaleas froze in a cold snap, it was because he breathed on them. Any stealthy small crimes committed in Maycomb were his work." (p.9) At this point, Radley's impressions are clearly outlined as being extremely unfavorable and highly discriminatory of his nature. Perhaps it is by the children's burning desire to understand Radley that their impressions of him evolve. The first impressions of Radley are made, by the children, without any real contact or relation with him. Caretakers of children have a great influence on children. Calpurnia was the Finch's maid and nanny, she practically was a mother to Jem and Scout. Calpurnia's opinions effected the ideas and morals of Scout and Jem in a strong way. Like Crawford, who displays her distaste towards the Radleys, Calpurnia also shares these feelings of distaste for Radley. Her dislike of Radley is well described in an offhand remark to the children: "There goes the meanest man ever God blew breath into." (p.12) The children, aided by neighborhood legends, make their own conclusions...

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