, Research Paper
What is a classic? One definition given by the dictionary is: having lasting significance or worth; enduring. When examined closely we can discover what makes the novel unique and memorable. There are many important messages in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, which make it memorable to the reader. The main message in this novel is about racism, how people around you, not just parents have a strong influence on you when you are growing up, and how rumors and misjudging can make a person look bad. Judging other people without knowledge of the facts is also a common occurrence.
Nearly the whole last half of the book is about racism. The attitude of the whole town is that Tom Robinson, because he is black and,” all Negroes lie, all Negroes are basically immoral beings, all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women “(Lee 207), will be found guilty regardless of how good a case Atticus makes for him. There was substantial amount of evidence that suggests his innocence. Even the prosecution’s two witnesses’ stories contradicted each other. The jury did not give a guilty verdict it gave a racist verdict. Not a verdict based on fact, but a verdict based on the color of a man’s skin. This is important because the author was not making this racism up; it was what it was like in those times. She is trying to show how ignorant and blind people can be just because of differences between them, as well as how society treats racial minorities.
During the book Scout and Jem are at an age were people around them greatly affect their thoughts, views and ideas about the world. Although Atticus tried to raise them to treat Negroes as equals, people around them affected their views on them. A good example is when Dill questioned the seemingly rude way which Mr. Gilmer treated Tom Robinson. Scout replied by saying, ” after all he’s just a Negro.” (Lee 201). She believes it to be acceptable. This is not something her father put in her head but people in her town. The same also happens in the black community. When Atticus asks Calpurnia to watch his children for him while he is out, Calpurnia accepts and takes the children with her to church, a church for black people. When she arrives with the children, they are greeted kindly except by a few people. These people use the same reason as in the last example as to why they should not be there, because they are white. What both races have done is shun the other race, which just keeps creating problems.
There are many people in the novel who are affected by rumors and misjudging. One is Dolphus Raymond, who is thought to be committing a great sin by having children with a black woman. The town does not look down on him, the town actually feels sorry for him. The town does not know the real story; they base their feelings on misjudging and rumors. They think the only way he could do a thing like that is if he was drunk all the time, “they could never understand that [he] live[s] like [he] do[es] because that’s the way [he] want[s] to live.” (Lee 203). Another person affected by this is Atticus. He is portrayed as a “nigger lover,” something not acceptable in Maycomb. Something that prompts Scout to fight anyone calls her father that to her face. “Boo” Radley’s case is much worse. This calm, gentle person is the subject of many rumors that have destroyed his reputation. The people in Maycomb consider him a dangerous person who could even be a possible killer. The rumor of him stabbing his father in the leg is was more than likely a tale used to scare children. The rumor of him putting poisoned nuts over the fence is even less likely. All these characters in the book are eventually cleared of false rumors. Scout and Dill find out that Dolphus Raymond is conscious of his choice to live with blacks and have mixed children, even though they are exiled by both black and white people. His drunkeness was just a play to make it easier for others to comprehend. After basically proving Tom’s innocence, even though the verdict was guilty, Atticus was shown to have respect for blacks but he was not a “nigger lover”. He was more of a “Negro respecter.” Boo Radley is found to be completely different than thought.
To Kill A Mockingbird has many important messages that can be taken from it. This is what causes the novel to endure. That is the reason this novel is a “classic” not just because it is a good story and has good characters. One can take something from it that many other novels do not have, real life lessons.