The relationship between family members shapes the ideas and values of characters in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Essay by step086Junior High, 9th gradeA+, December 2008

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Ideal families are usually formed by values, morals, and love between each others. However, in some cases, different families may form badly through separation. The Finches, the Cunninghams, and the Ewells were examples of families that were used by Harper Lee, the author of the story To Kill a Mockingbird, to demonstrate the values and costumes of families in Maycomb, Alabama. ,To determine whether if a family is an ideal family or not, one must investigate what an ideal family, the Finches, is like. A good example of a quote that was shown in To Kill a Mockingbird, was on page 24 and 25, "Hush your mouth! Don't matter who they are, anybody… you can just set here and eat in the kitchen!" This quote was said by Calpurnia, a black cook of the Finches, when she was punishing Scout for being rude to little Walter Cunningham. This shows that even though the Finch family is missing one member of its family, the mom, Calpurnia is capable of replacing that gap. Another example of a quote that proves that the Finches are an ideal family was on page 127, "Jem's growing up now and you are too… before you become interested in clothes and boys-" This quote was said by Aunt Alexandra when she was explaining to the Finch children, Jem and Scout, why she has come. This shows that the Finches care about their children's future and how everybody should act according to their gender. For example, Aunt Alexandra's wish that Scout should act more like a girl. The Finches are shown as an ideal family with all the ideal habits and values.

Similar to the Finches, the Cunninghams are also an ideal family. A good example of a quote was on page 20 and 21, "We watched. One morning… had more than paid him." This shows that even though Cunningham does not have any money to pay Atticus back he Walter Cunningham tried his best by repaying him back with the agricultural crops that he grew in his farm. Another example of a quote was on when Walter Cunningham accepted the apology from Scout and accepted the invitation to the Finches for dinner, even after being beaten up by Scout. This shows that they are respectful to others and forgive others. Even though the Cunnighams are very poor and horribly educated people, they are a good model of a family full of morals and good intentions.

Despite the fact that the Cunninghams and the Ewells are both very poor and horribly educated, the Cunninghams are a family that is ideal, but the Ewells are not. A good example of an event that happened in the book is when Mayella's Dad, during the trial of Bob, tries to prove to the audience that he is a good, respectful Dad, but he actually is a horrible one. This shows how the members of the family do not respect each other and how they lie about themselves. Another excellent example of an event that took place in the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, is when Bob Ewell comes to Atticus, after the trail and the heartbreaking death of Tom Robinson, and spits on his face. This shows how non-respectful Bob Ewell is to other members of the Maycomb, Alabama. Clearly the Ewells tries to demonstrate good values and morals, but realistically these qualities are not present in their family life.

By using the 3 main families of the story, To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee was able to display the principle of values and morals. As explained in the prior paragraphs, all three families have their own positive and negative characteristics that determine whether if they are an ideal family or not. The theme will always be established in some way when analyzing the families' life in To Kill a Mockingbird. Some may seem to us immoral today, but may not be for the characters in the novel.