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Use Of Minor Characters In To Kill A Mockingbird

1521 words - 6 pages

Minor characters are often more important than they initially seem, and can be just as engaging and complicated as major characters. Furthermore, protagonists are isolated without the people that surround and influence them subliminally. This applies to the intriguing minor characters one has the privilege of discovering in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Specifically, Lee uses minor characters to effectively disprove stereotypes and establishing setting. Not only do they influence the direction of the plot, but also Scout and her development as a character. Lee carefully selects minor characters to send important messages and reinforce themes by using characters as symbols. Fundamentally, the minor characters in “To Kill a Mockingbird” are crucial in making Harper Lee’s novel beautiful, moving, and believable enough to touch every reader.
Firstly, minor characters break stereotypes to breathe life into the sleepy town of Maycomb, establishing setting. For example, Mr. Dolphus Raymond assumes the character of a drinker as a pretense for associating with coloured people, though in reality he is drinking coca cola and not alcohol, hidden the contents in a paper bag. He confesses this to Scout, saying “Secretly, Miss Finch, I’m not much of a drinker, but you see they could never, never understand that I live like I do because that’s the way I want to live” (Lee 200-201). This proves that what is most outwardly transparent and unlikeable in a character may truly be interesting and good-natured. Mr. Raymond’s secret causes the reader to look past the paper bag and ask why a man might go to such extent to hide his best qualities. It proves that, in Mr. Raymond’s eyes, Maycomb isn’t yet able to handle the truth. He must hide it behind a stereotype that the community readily accepts over the idea of equality, which is very telling about Maycomb’s priorities. Another stereotype in Maycomb that African Americans, specifically, might be placed under is that they are uneducated and inferior to the white community. Calpurnia disproves this easily. In fact, when Scout is describing her and the arguments they had, she states that “Calpurnia always won, mainly because Atticus always took her side” (Lee 6). This clearly shows that Calpurnia has Atticus’ approval, something she could only gain by showing intelligence and capability. It proves that she is not only correct and just in her ways, but that she is respected and has some authority in the Finch household. This is neither common nor stereotypical in Maycomb, and neither is Boo Radley. Though he is at the center of the most notorious story in all of Maycomb, and is rumored to be a haunted psychopath, he is not the typical recluse. His true nature is revealed in “Summer, and he watched his children’s heart break. Autumn again, and Boo’s children needed him” (Lee 279). Clearly, Boo is much more benevolent than anyone could perceive, as he chooses to be kind despite his hardship. He disproves the...

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