To Kill a Mockingbird The style in which any author writes their work can reflect or reveal their attitude towards a subject. In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, she expresses…… (intro). Harper Lee uses characterization, motifs, and irony to show how she feels people should be treated. Harper Lee uses characterization to display her philosophy towards the treatment she feels people deserve. The story takes place during The Great Depression, meaning no one in the town of Maycomb has any money.
So when Walter Cunningham, a man belonging to one of the poorest families in the town, borrows money from Atticus, he uses a different method to pay him back. Scout and Jem watched and Mr. Cunningham stayed true to his word as they “found a load of stovewood in the back yard. Later, a sack of hickory nuts appeared on the back steps. With Christmas came a crate of Smilax and holly”(15). By this time, Atticus agrees that Mr. Cunningham has paid him more than enough. Using the characterization of Mr. Cunningham and Atticus, readers can infer that Harper Lee feels people should be treated with honor.
Mr. Cunningham did not have the money to give back to Atticus, yet he did everything he could to ensure that his debt got paid off. When the novel starts, Scout is five years old. In her young age, she often misunderstands the things she sees and hears so she asks many questions, attempting to gain knowledge. When she asks her Uncle Jack what a “whore-lady” is, he evades the question, not wanting to have the discussion. Later that night when Jack explains the conversation to Atticus, he explains that “children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than dults, and evasion simply muddles them”(72).
Harper Lee shows that she feels children should be given honest and straightforward answers. Atticus found it important to be straightforward with Scout, characterizing Atticus as an honest person. As Jem and Scout walk the same path to and from school each day, they pass the Radley house, which frightened them due to the stories they heard about it. But after weeks of finding small gifts placed for them in a knot-hole of the tree by the Radley yard, they rationalize who may have left them before realizing that is Boo Radley.
So once Mr. Radley closes the hole with cement, the kids go back home and sit on the porch in a dismal mood. As they go back inside, Scout notices that “Jem had been crying; his face was dirty in all the right places”(52). Jem shows sensitivity as well as guilt in this part of the story. Through the characterization of Jem, Harper Lee shows that feels people should be treated with kindness. Because Jem judged and made fun of Boo Radley, without truly knowing him, he feels disheartned because of his actions.
By using different examples of characterization, Harper Lee shows that she believes everyone should show respect, honesty, and kindness to those around them. Harper Lee uses motifs to show her attitude about the proper treatment of human beings. The idea of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is presented in several parts of the story. Scout begins attending kindergarten and dislikes her teacher, Miss Caroline. She talks to Atticus about it, hoping she no longer will have to go to school since her teacher tells her that she should no longer read at home with Atticus.
He then explains to her that “you never really know a person until you consider things from his point of view”(22). This idea exemplifies that Harper Lee believes people should always do their best to understand someone and their actions before placing judgement. Due to the fact that Miss Caroline is new to Maycomb, she did not fully understand their system and all of their unwritten rules. The idea later gets presented when Dill, Scout’s close friend, runs away from home and finds the Finch house, hiding there until Scout and Jem go to bed. After Jem telling Atticus and much pleading on Dill’s behalf, his mother decides he can stay.
Once Dill and Scout lay in the bed later that night, Dill explains that he ran away because he felt as though his family did not show him enough attention and never wanted to be around him. Scout finds herself “wondering what life would be like if Jem were different, even from what he was now”(120). Through this example, Harper Lee shows she feels people should try to show others compassion and understanding. Although Scout does not particularly understand what Dill tries to explain,she still finds herself wondering what she would do in that same predicament. Lastly, the same motif is displayed at the very end of the novel.
After the end of the trial, Bob Ewell, a man in Maycomb, known for his drunkenly behavior, attacks Jem and Scout one night after a Halloween party. Jem breaks his arm and gets cut before Boo Radley rushes to save them both, fatally stabbing Bob Ewell. After walking him back home and returning to her own home Scout reflects on when Atticus told her, “you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them”(237). Throughout the story, Scout and Jem spent their days taunting Boo Radley and making up stories and games based on how they thought he acted.
Boo Radley suddenly changes from a fictional character in the minds of Dill, Jem and Scout, to a friend and protector. Harper Lee uses these examples to show the importance of refraining from placing judgement, showing compassion, and showing maturation. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee uses irony to display how she feels people should be treated. Things shift in the story once Atticus receives a plottwisting case in which he strives to defend Tom Robinson: a black man accused of raping and beating a white woman. After Atticus decides to take the case, Jem and Scout get teased and made fun of by many of their peers.
Scout questions her father, asking him why he would take the case and he tells her that he “couldn’t go to church and worship God”(87) if he did not try to help Tom. Situational irony takes place in this part of the story due to the fact that Atticus is a white man and Tom Robinson is black. During this time period and setting, a white man willingly helping and defending a black man accused of such a crime is different from what readers would expect. In this example, Harper Lee shows she feels that no matter what color your skin is, everyone should be given the same treatment.
During the summertime, Scout, Jem and Dill make a game of Boo Radley in which they tease him and make efforts to get him outside. One night, when they all go to Boo Radley’s house, Mr. Nathan, Boo Radley’s father shoots his gun in the air, scaring Scout, Jem, and Dill. As they all flee from the property, Jem gets his pants caught on the fence, forcing him to take them off. Later that night, when he goes back to retrieve them, he notices they’ve been sewed up for him. Scout tells Jem that it was almost like