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Children and Adults in To Kill a Mockingbird

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Harper Lee entered the literature of the second half of the twentieth century, along with the names of writers of the American South and took a special place there. Describing a remote province with a picturesque landscape, manners, customs, and views, the author skillfully characterizes the life of the American South in her book To Kill a Mockingbird.  Town of Maycomb, Alabama is an old, small city, where it’s always very hot, and all people know each other. Not being an autobiographical book, the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, in many ways, reflects a traditional way of life in the American town of Alabama, in which the writer herself was born and grew up.

The author tries to change the environment from within. To Kill a Mockingbird explores the social situation in the 1930s associated with slavery in the territory of America. The abolitionist movement that was formed during this period was of a religious and ethical nature. Representatives of various religious denominations opposed the slave trade and slavery.

The trial is one of the symbols of killing a mockingbird. The trial of the black man Thomas Robinson, because of which people, in conformity with the established foundations are divided into white and black, and therefore into good and bad, is portrayed as a turning issue in the novel. The author does everything to keep the reader in suspense. The experience of the young children of the famous local attorney Atticus Finch, who observed the process, very subtly conveys the author’s relationship to reality. Everyone knew that the case was deliberately doomed. However, Atticus continues to fight. The boundless sense of duty, honor and an acute sense of justice, make the lawyer take up this matter. He is an honest lawyer and a true gentleman. His life positions cause respect. He not only skillfully defended Robinson but also became one of the symbols of people-fighters against racism. Despite all the efforts of the lawyer, Robinson was convicted. Harper Lee describes the topic of relationship to another person in comparison with a birdie mockingbird. Atticus compared Tom’s death with the senseless killing of songbirds.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel about the emergence of the human person. Having mastered the lessons of Mark Twain, who stated that children are “the cleanest and most consistent democrats,” Harper Lee finds her way to show the world of adults through the eyes of a child, without simplifying or impoverishing it. The author puts a little girl in the center of the narrative. Provoking adults to speak and act, she learns for herself lessons of outlook and morality. The world through the eyes of a child is divided into the world of Good and Evil. Any penetration into the adult world and the knowledge that the child receives, observing behavior, can destroy or strengthen the desire for Good. In this connection, it is not difficult to single out two plot lines of the novel. And one of them is “childish,” which is the backdrop of this work since the whole narrative is conducted on behalf of a six-year-old girl, but through the memories of the thirty-year-old Jean-Louise Finch. The other line is “adult,” which reflects the tragic side of the entire population of Maycomb, and is connected with the trial.

An important role in the story is taken by the story of the Boo Radley, who never leaves the house, thereby provoking children’s fantasies. This whole story is shown by the author as a kind of game in which only children participate. With all the truths and crooks, they are trying to rescue a mentally ill person from the house, the whole district was afraid of. This house, shrouded in legend, was bypassed by all the inhabitants of the town. Here, Harper Lee determines the degree of ignorance of the entire population of Maycomb, which relies on wild superstitions and false beliefs. At the end of the novel, he will save the children from the murderer.

The entire narrative of the novel fits within three years. In the initial chapters, we see a six-year-old child, at the end we see a grown-up nine-year-old girl who has already learned something about our life. Against this background, there is a certain rapprochement between “child” and “adult” worlds. This task is masterfully solved by Harper Lee, combining to the end of the novel two plot points of view, which acquire absolute unity. And then, immediately after the curtain, Harper Lee, proceeding from the belief that a person is kind by nature, will say with the words of Atticus Finch: “Almost all people are good when you eventually understand them …”

Work Sites

  • To kill a mockingbird, Harper Lee – Warner Books – 1982
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