Themes within To kill a Mockingbird

Eric Deutmeyer


Throughout the entire book Atticus multiple times refers to courage and what real courage is. He is always telling his children to do what is right and morally right. That takes courage because many times society doesn't go with what is right. Atticus is a great example of courage within the book. He takes on the Tom Robinson case even though he knows he is probably going to loose. It takes courage to do something like that. Most lawyers would have just given up and not tried. Atticus however gave a very strong defense to prove that Tom was innocent. Another example Of courage was when Jem had to read to Mrs. Dubose. She was a mean lady as he thought but he still sucked it up and read to her. Once he was reading to her he found out that it wasn't all that bad and that she was going through a hard time in her life. She had an addiction to morphine that she was kicking and getting over. And then in the end of the book when Bob Ewell attacked Scout and Jem Boo Radley came to the help. He was the only one that could hear them. It took courage for Boo to come out and help them. He could have pretended to have never heard their screams for help. He had not come out of the house in that many years so if he did not come out nobody would have thought anything of it. He decided to go out and help them out though. That was one of the hardest decisions that would have had to be made in the book.

Don't hurt something innocent

Throughout the book Harper Lee mentioned the phrase, not to kill a mocking bird. The First point that we heard this in the book was when they had their bb guns and Atticus told them not to shoot mockingbirds because they do nothing but make pretty music for them. They were not allowed to shoot mockingbirds because they are innocent and do nothing wrong, they are nice birds to have around. Then later on in the book another character, Tom Robinson pops up and he is on trial for rape. He did not commit the crime and everyone knows it, even the whites. Tom is considered one of the "Mockingbird" characters. He did not do anything wrong and yet they still find him guilty and end up killing him. Tom did not do anything wrong and yet he still dies. this is an example of hurting something that is innocent. The other "Mockingbird" Character is Boo Radley. He did nothing wrong the whole book. He was a mystery for the majority of the book until the end when he came out and saved Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell. Sheriff Tate knows that Boo killed Bob and so do all of the finches. they slipped the actual knife that Bob had in his pocket (a switchblade) to make the death of him look like an accident and as though he tripped on a root of the old oak tree and then fell on the knife and killed himself. While this is the story the town will believe, they know it is not true. Scout recognizes Boo as a Mockingbird character because he did not do anything wrong. He was saving their lives yet if everyone found out about what really happened, he would be put on trial and potentially really bad consequences might have happened. Tom and Boo are both considered "Mockingbird" characters because they have not done anything wrong and yet they were either treated as though they had done something wrong, or almost treated that way. They are both good examples of why we shouldn't hurt something that is innocent.

Racism is Everywhere

Racism was throughout the entire book. Not just in the main point with the trial of Tom Robinson. Early on in the book Jem and Scout got picked on at school for supporting blacks. During the time period of the book a common belief was that whites were better than blacks. There wasn't slavery but there was segregation. The whites felt as though they were better than the blacks. So, for Jem and Scout with their dad supporting a black man in a trial they were looked down upon because they were helping out the blacks and treating them as equals. Then later on in the book the trial of Tom Robinson comes about. Int he Courtroom the blacks have to sit away from the whites. While whites can sit anywhere the blacks have to sit up in the balcony. Atticus was frowned upon by the whites for supporting Tom. Most lawyers would not have even tried to help out Tom and would have just admitted defeat right from the start. While Atticus knew he probably would not have won the trial he still gave it his all and tried to show the jury what they were doing and to make clear that they were convicting a man because of his skin color. He used lots of evidence such as the fact that tom couldn't have raped Mayella because his arm was crippled on the side that she was abused on. Also when Mayella was on the stand it was obvious that she was making up a story as she went along. Tom was found guilty just because of his skin color and racism. Racism was around every where back then and it is still around now, however now it is less common.

Growing Up is Tough

In the book To Kill A Mockingbird Jem really had to grow up. In the beginning of the book he thought that Atticus was worthless. He did not think that he was good at anything. He did not like that his dad didn't do anything cool for a job, wasn't really strong, or that he didn't do any hobbies that were cool either. Later on though in the book he was realizing that while his dad's job may not be the coolest it is still an important job. One way that he realized that Atticus was good at something is when he had to shoot Tim Johnson the dog when he had rabies. He saw that his dad was a really good shot and then Atticus was talking with the other man and they were discussing how he was a really good shot before. If he was a child and immature he may not have been able to pick up on these things. Then a major part where Jem had to mature and started to really show his maturing was during the Trial of Tom Robinson. He knew just as well as everyone else in the courtroom that Tom was innocent but they were still going to find him guilty. He saw that racism was wrong. He matured during this when he made the decision that even though he was white he would still believe that Tom, a black man was innocent. He was making decisions on his own without other people doing it for him. As children we normally believe and follow our parents decisions. When he made decisions on his own he showed that he can make his own opinions and beliefs without other people doing it for him. Then at the end of the book he was in charge of walking scout to and from the Halloween party. He was mature enough that he could take lead and handle things on his own. Then when Bob Ewell attacked he knew that something was wrong and was being very cautious. A child would have just brushed it off and moved on. Jem knew that something was wrong and reacted to it. He matured throughout the entire book and he really showed it especially at the end of the book and during the trial.