To kill a mockingbird

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 10th grade February 2008

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By: Anonymous To Kill a Mockingbird was written in 1960 by Harper Lee. Lee is a native of Alabama. This book reflects some of the attitudes and actions that still take place today. I took into consideration the fact that I am an African-American living in the South that does not know a whole lot about my Caucasian counterparts. A girl named Jean Louise "Scout" Finch told the story. She was a six-year-old whose best friend was her only and older sibling, Jeremy. I noticed that Jeremy took out a lot of time with his younger sister. They went almost everywhere together. He answered questions she did not understand and gave her a lot of information he knew would help her. I also appreciated the fact that Jeremy did everything for his sister out of love for her. Scout was a girl from a middle-class family with good standing in their community.

She was often fussed at by the ladies of the town and by her uppity Aunt Alexandra because she did not carry herself in a lady-like manner. Instead of her having tea parties and wearing dresses, Scout climbed trees and wore jean overalls. I laughed as I read this particular part because it reminded me of when I was young and liked to climb trees. I can also relate to the closeness shared by the siblings because I am very close to my younger brother, Brandon. Charles Baker "Dill" Harris was the only other child mentioned in the story that was a friend of Scout and Jem. He was from Meridian and the trio became aquatinted because Dill would come to Alabama and visit with his Aunt Rachel in the summer who stayed across from Scout and Jem. Dill had a different outlook on family situations than the two siblings had. Dill was given just about anything he asked for. He seldom got attention from his mother or stepfather. They made him promises of quality time they never kept, so they would buy him gifts to make up for the broken promises. Jem and Scout's mother died in childbirth while having Scout. Mocking 3 Their father, Atticus Finch, was a lawyer who spent long hours in his office or away on business so they were used to being without parents. Atticus Finch was a very well rounded man who took into consideration the feelings of everyone when he had something to do or to explain. His laid back attitude and calmness reminded me of my own father. For a minute, I felt myself jump into the shoes of Scout Finch. I did not have to walk to meet my father as soon as he came home from work, but I would wait for him in the living room. When thinking of the treatment and attitudes toward African-Americans, times have improved and changed tremendously. Calpurnia was the black cook and housekeeper for the Finch family and had been for generations. During the time of the Depression, the family could not really afford to keep her, but Mr. Finch felt that during such a trying time, she really needed the money she earned by caring for his family. The Finch children appreciated Calpurnia for watching them at play, listening to their problems, tending to their illnesses, and providing them with good meals. Their father appreciated her also for he never complained of what she did, even when she took the children to church with her while he would be away on business. I could imagine how scared the children were when they were in an all black church with everyone staring at them. It would be very uncomfortable. I feel that race relations are better now than they have ever been. There is this problem in the story of interracial relationships and mixed children that were unaccepted then and to some extent, even now. Mr. Dolphis Raymond was the example in this book. He was a white landowner who was well respected in the town. He was looked on as being a drunkard because his wife killed herself on their wedding day. She supposedly killed herself because she found Mocking 4 out her husband-to-be had a black girlfriend and children by her. The town used the excuse of his being a drunk and crazy to cover up the fact that a good standing white man actually liked black women. During this day and time, it was very disrespectful for a white man to associate with a black woman and acknowledge it. It has been known since the beginning of time that white men have had sexual relationships with black women. If not, light-skinned blacks would not have been. The town also resented the fact that Mr. Raymond took care of the children he had by this woman. This book was very interesting to me because I had very mixed emotions while I was reading it. I felt frustrated and angry when I had to read the derogatory terms such as "Niger", "boy", or "girl" used to refer to grown black men and women. I wanted to cry when Mr. Finch had to tell Helen that she no longer had a husband and her two children did not have a father. Helen was the wife of Tom Robinson, a black field hand that was accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white girl. Atticus instilled the same attitude he carried himself into the minds of his children that all people were people regardless of their skin color. He was not the violent type and refused to carry a gun. The children's uncle taught them how to shoot a gun and he told them that he would rather they shoot at tin cans instead of shooting at birds, especially mockingbirds. When they asked why, his reply was "it was a sin to kill a mockingbird" (Lee, 97). The title was mentioned again at the end of the book. At the end of the story, Mr. Ewell, Mayella's father, threatened Mr. Finch by telling him the last thing he would do would be to get revenge because he defended Tom Robinson. But instead of Mr. Ewell going after Atticus, he went after Atticus's children. Mr. Ewell killed himself by falling down on his own knife during a tussle with Jem. When Atticus was attempting to explain Mocking 5 to Scout what happened to Mr. Ewell, he asked her if she understood. She replied yes, … it would be sort of like shooting a mockingbird…(Lee, 291). I think that his explanation was more for his benefit than it was for Scout. Scout had told him what she remembered about the tussle. During the tussle Jem had broken his arm. Though it seems as if Jem could have killed the man during the struggle, anyone would say how could that be possible when his arm was broken. It seems as if to think otherwise it would be like killing a mockingbird.

Bibliography Running head: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee Word Count: 1154