In a town where racism is accepted and people are prejudice, one family stands up for what is right. To Kill a Mockingbird is a story from the point of view of a little girl, Jean Louise Finch, Scout, and about growing up in the racist town of Maycomb in the 1930's. Throughout the book, you see Scout and her brother, Jem, maturing and seeing what is going on around them. Their father, Atticus Finch is assigned to defend a black man and it shows his struggle for doing what is right. There are many other characters in To Kill a Mockingbird, but not all represent something. The characters of Atticus Finch, Tom Robinson, and Dolphus Raymond represent the qualities of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as stated in the Declaration of Independence and embodied in the Constitution.
Atticus Finch represents the quality of life. He is the father of Jem and Scout.
Atticus loves his children and is an influential part of their lives. Protecting his children and standing up for what is right is what Atticus is all about. Atticus is a great man and he is a positive character in a pool of bad, racist characters. "What I meant was, if Atticus Finch drank until he was drunk he wouldn't be as hard as some men are at their best. There are just some kind of men who-who're so busy worrying about the next world they've never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results"(Lee 45). Atticus is a gentle soul who knows what is going on and does what is right. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus is assigned to defend a black man on trial for rape, Tom Robinson. Maycomb is a racist town and Atticus is an exception. So he tries everything to free Tom Robinson. "This case, Tom Robinson's case, is something that goes to the essence of a man's conscience-Scout, I couldn't go to church and worship God if I didn't try to help that man"(Lee 104). Atticus could have easily just not even tried to help Tom Robinson, but he choose to do what was right because he could not live with himself if he did not. Atticus is an important figure in Maycomb and is an important figure in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Tom Robinson represents the quality of liberty because he was convicted of a crime he did not commit. Tom Robinson did not have any liberties because he was black. He was charged and convicted for the rape of Mayella Ewell. "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird"ÃÂ(Lee 90). Tom Robinson is the mockingbird. He is charged unfairly for doing nothing and did not deserve to be convicted. There was no chance for him because he was up against a racist jury. "I don't know [how they could convict Tom Robinson], but they did it. They've done it before and they did it tonight and they'll do it again and when they do it-seems that only children weep"(Lee 213). This quote shows what type of people Tom Robinson was up against. Black people were not highly thought of. Tom Robinson had no chance for his liberties. Although Atticus proves that Tom Robinson is not guilty he is still convicted. Tom Robinson was shot trying to escape from prison. "I told him what I thought, but I couldn't in truth say that we had more than a good chance. I guess Tom was tired of white men's chances and preferred to take his own"ÃÂ(Lee 235-236). He would rather die than to face the unfair punishment for a crime he did not commit.
Dolphus Raymond represents the pursuit of happiness. "Some folks don't-like the way I live. Now I can say the hell with "ÃÂem, I don't care if they don't like it. I do say I don't care if they don't like it, right enough-but I don't say the hell with "ÃÂem, see"ÃÂ(Lee 200)? Dolphus Raymond is married to a black woman and has black children. He does not care what people think, he just does what makes him happy. Dolphus Raymond pretends to be drunk sometimes. "I try to give em' a reason, you see. It helps folks if they can latch onto a reason. When I come to town, which is seldom, I weave a little and drink out of this sack, folks can say Dolphus Raymond's in the clutches of whiskey-that's why he won't change his ways. He can't help himself, that's why he lives the way he does"ÃÂ(Lee 200). Dolphus Raymond just wants people to leave him alone so he can live his life the way he wants to, the way it makes him happy.
Atticus Finch, Tom Robinson, and Dolphus Raymond are important characters in To Kill a Mockingbird because they represent the qualities of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Atticus represents the quality of life because he is living the American dream. Tom Robinson represents the quality of liberty because he died for his freedom of liberty. Dolphus Raymond represents the pursuit of happiness because he is doing what makes him happy. To Kill a Mockingbird is a story of the struggle of a family to do the right thing in a town of racism. Throughout the book, you see the maturing of Jem and Scout and their world of innocence and purity grow into a world of racism and corruption. They no longer lived in a simple world where you hear the sweet song of the mockingbird, the mockingbird is dead.