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“To Kill A Mockingbird”: Appearance versus Reality

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Appearance versus reality is a major theme in the novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. There are many incorrect perceptions in the town of Maycomb county which include Jem and Scout’s opinion of their father, Jem’s judgement of Mrs. Dubose, the town’s delusion of Boo Radley and the town’s outlook of the black community.

In the introductory segment of the novel, Jem and Scout look at their father as an embarrassment and they think his age inhibits the development of their relationships. When Miss Caroline asks Scout to tell her father to stop teaching her to read, Scout replies,

This signifies the children’s misconception of their father. They think he is a tired, old man with no time for them, but in reality he is a better father than most others, teaching them all the right things they need to know to get on well in life.

Jem’s judgement of Mrs Dubose plays a very significant role in making the reader apprehend her character properly. Mrs. Dubose treats Jem and Scout with a great deal of disrespect. Every time they pass her house while she is sitting on her verandah, she hurls criticisms and insults at them. She pushes Jem to his limits and causes him to destroy her most treasured possessions, her camellias. Atticus punishes Jem by making him read to Mrs Dubose every day for one month and Scout joins him. After Mrs. Dubose passed away, Atticus explains to his children that she was a morphine addict, and her goal was to stop taking it before she died. He made his children understand what the meaning of courage is.

Mrs. Dubose is seen by Jem and Scout as an old and mean woman, but in reality, she is extremely brave and courageous.

Another example that applies to the appearance versus reality them in the novel is the town’s delusion of Boo or Arthur Radley. The town has created an inhumane imaginary figure to represent Boo Radley. Boo dominates the imaginations of the town’s children, especially Dill, Jem and Scout’s.

There is no way for anybody to know such details when Boo has barely stepped out of the house. The children’s curiosity causes them to make up an imaginary person. The town has made him out to be an inhumane monster and someone to be afraid of, but in reality, he is an innocent, kind man who is more humane than most of the town’s people.

One of the major misconceptions in Maycomb County is the town’s outlook on the entire black community. The way that Tom Robinson is treated signifies the way that the whole black community is treated. Tom Robinson was clearly innocent, and Bob Ewell was clearly guilty, although, the racial prejudice in this town is rampant, and has him plead guilty, and also ends up having him dead. Comments in the novel such as ‘Your dad’s a nigger-lover’, show the extreme misunderstandings of the black community in Maycomb, especially because this comment was made by a junior school student at Scout’s age. Atticus understands the racial mentality of his town and he tries to make his children understand.

The black community is seen as a violent, dangerous, unfair and unjust society, but in reality it is the complete opposite. The white community is more of this atmosphere than any other community.

There are many misunderstandings and misconceptions in the town of Maycomb which causes people to confuse themselves between appearance and reality. Jem and Scout’s opinion of their father, Jem’s judgement of Mrs. Dubose, the town’s delusion of Boo Radley and the town’s outlook of the black community are because of people who have mistaken appearance for reality. We learn through this novel and this important theme, that mistaking appearance for reality is a major factor of life to be careful about.

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