“To Kill a Mockingbird is about growing up, real courage and compassion. Discuss. “ Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird represents many themes throughout. Growing up, real courage and compassion are just a few among the many themes that are explored throughout the book. The novel talks about growing up through the loss of innocence and when challenges are faced positive attributes are developed. Real courage is not just “the man with the sword” it is acting on ones beliefs when the outcome is most likely going to be unsuccessful and there are a number of characters in the novel with admirable bravery. Compassion is mainly talk about in the form of looking from another’s perspective to see what one misses from their own shoes.
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The book to kill a Mockingbird discusses the themes of innocence and growing up. Throughout the novel the characters are faced with many challenging situations that they must take head on just like the rest of the community, from these challenges the community grows and their innocence is lost. In part one of the novel we meet Jem and Scout, the children of Atticus Finch, a lawyer and well respected man of Maycomb. Their imaginations run wild as they play games and act out stories of Macomb’s most mysterious character Boo Radley. These young children are you basic American children playing in the neighbourhood during the summer like all young children do, they are still young and innocent. As the novel progresses they realise what it really means to grow up and much harder life gets.
“Growing up is great, you get your driver’s license… Turns out, growing up means that you have to face unpleasant things instead of avoiding them – and you can’t actually do what you want all the time.” Scout, out of all the characters has the biggest imagination and is scared of what growing up means. Up until the case of Tom Robinson she is just as innocent as she has been her whole life. As the true characters of Maycomb begin to come out, Scout and Jem are exposed to things that will change their lives forever. Lee demonstrates how these children learn about the essentiality of good and evil and the existence of injustice and racism. Especially Jem, he is so devastated that his town was capable of such wrong doing that during the court case he was bought to tears. Jem cried because he was shocked at the injustice of the jury, people from his own town, which he had always considered above such prejudice.
As growing up leads to loss of innocence, growing up also takes real courage to move on and face the problems that are ahead of you instead of running away from them to save the pain you are about to face. The theme of real courage is important in the book To Kill a Mockingbird as it helps to understand the book and why its messages are so important. There are many forms of courage throughout the novel shown by Jem, Atticus and Mrs Dubose. Courage comes in many forms, physical, mental, emotional and moral. Mrs Dubose shows a lot of emotional courage. She used to be a morphine addict when she was taking it for her cancer but has now chosen to suffer the pain alone. Although no one in the Maycomb County likes her but Atticus admires her for her bravery.” I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”
This quote is talking about Mrs Dubose but refers to Atticus as well and his courage of defending a black man against a white community. He might not have a gun but he has the heart and the courage to do it. Atticus has taken on the Tom Robinson case in defending him against the Ewells. Atticus and the rest of the community know that Tom is innocent but because he is lower class and a different race the community of Maycomb feel the need to punish him. Atticus is brave in the way he went about defending Tom, he was not worried about what people would think of him. His delivery in court was very persuasive but he knew that the jury would have already made their mind up before the got to court. He was brave enough to give it a go. He stood up for his believes despite of what the people of Maycomb thought of him as a “‘Nigger lover “and a disgrace to his family. Jem’s physical braveness comes late in the novel when he saves his younger sister from Macomb’s worst criminal Bob Ewell. At the start of the novel, Jem’s idea of bravery is simply touching the side of the Radley house and then only because “In all his life, Jem had never declined a dare.”
But as the story progresses, Jem learns about bravery from Atticus facing a mad dog, from Mrs Dubose’s fight with addiction and her willingness to face her illness head-on despite knowing that it’s going to take her life, and other scenarios. Compassion is another theme that is explored in the book To Kill a Mockingbird. There are different examples of compassion in the book. There is standing in another person’s shoes and looking from their perspective and there is also asking for others to be compassionate and put peoples differences behind them. Looking from one another’s perspective can teach you a lot about whom that person is and the challenges they face. At the end of the novel after Boo Radley saves Scout and Jem from Bob Ewell, Scout is determined to find out more about Boo from his own perspective.
She befriends him and shows compassion towards him and his loneliness. She looks down at Maycomb from Boo’s veranda and is surprised to see his view. “Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough”. Scout was finally able to see the world from Boo’s perspective and be compassionate to the real Boo Radley. Boo was judged on what he was known as from many years ago but in secrecy Boo was Maycomb’s guardian angel watching over everyone. Atticus is compassionate the whole way throughout the novel especially when he decides to defend Tom Robinson and by visiting Mrs Dubouse. Atticus’s intentions are to prove to the Maycomb County that just because these people are different, does not mean they are bad people.
His speech in court is asking people to look beyond Tom’s physical features and look inside his heart. “If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from their point of view” He wants to change the community for the better by showing compassion to those who are in need of it. Whilst doing this he inspires Scout and Jem to do the same The positive themes that To Kill a Mockingbird teaches us are the importance of compassion, real courage and growing up and loss of innocence. We are given examples throughout the book by many of the characters.
Atticus teaches us the importance of looking at things from someone else perspective to see the real picture. Mrs Dubose is a brave character who shows us how to face the challenges that lie ahead no matter what the final outcome will be. Scout’s loss of innocence throughout the novel, shows the importance of growing up in order to understand fully what life is really all about.