controversial issues in "To Kill a Mockingbird", by Harper Lee, racism, discrimination and social class are explored

Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, UndergraduateA+, September 1996

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In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee addresses many controversial issues. Such issues as, racism, discrimination,

and social class are explored. During the 1950's in the small county of Maycomb, the mentality of most southern people

reflected that of the nation. Most of the people were racist and discriminatory. In the novel, these ideas are explored by a

young girl, Scout. The readers see the events that occur through her eyes. In the book, Scout's father, Atticus, tells Scout and

Jem, 'I'd rather you shoot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you

can hit'em, but remember its a sin to kill a mockingbird.' (pg. 69) The mockingbird is a symbol for two of the characters in the

novel: Tom Robinson and Boo Radley. The mockingbird symbolizes these two characters because it does not have its own

song. Whereas, the blue jay is loud and obnoxious, the mockingbird only sings other birds' songs. Because the mockingbird

does not sing its own song, we characterize it only by what the other birds sing. Hence, we see the mockingbird through the

other birds. In the novel, the people of Maycomb only know Boo Radley and Tom Robinson by what others say about them.

Both of these characters do not really have their own 'song' in a sense, and therefore, are characterized by other people's


Throughout the novel, Scout, Jem, and Dill are curious about the 'mysterious' Boo Radley because he never comes outside of

his house or associates with anyone in the neighborhood. The children are, in fact, afraid of him because of all the stories they

hear about him from the people in Maycomb. For example, Miss Stephanie tells the children that while...