Theme: Family and Social Class
- The Finches - Atticus is different to all the other fathers in Maycomb - Dill's dad doesn't want him, Mayella's dad is abusive and Boo's dad keeps him indoors like ALL the time. However, they are not all perfect and innocent. Simon Finch came from plantation workers who used slave labour which shows how the Finch's are not all thaht innocent. It also makes Atticus' achievement even more great. Again, his kids look up to him. Jem says "A lawyer just like Atticus" which can show how Atticus is a great dad and there is hope for the future to change.
- Cannot escape family background - In Maycomb, your family is everything. Aunt Alexandra describes the families in Maycomb as having "Streaks" like a gambling streak or a drinking streak. This is very stereotypical and shows how you are not judged individually, but as a family. Furthermore, her and Scout share very different views on what defines "Fine Folk". In Alexandras view, it is where you came from, but in Scout's it is the things you do as a person - showing differences between characters. An example of family, is how Boo Radley is kept indoors just becasue of what he did as a child - it reflects upon the whole family.
- Heirarchy - You have the Cunninghams who Scout is not allowed to talk to becasue they are "lower" than her in Alexandra's view. Then there are the Ewell's who are just "trash" as described in the book. The black community are seen as inferior which is why Tom is convicted even though there is such strong evidence against it. Aunt Alexandra thinks that hierarchy is VERY important but nobody else really cares..
- Expecatations - There are many expectations of people - especially children. Scout is expected to behave like a lady and the families of Maycomb are described as "utterly predictable to one another".
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Theme: Innocence and Bravery
- Innocence: This play a big role in the book. Scout is seen as very innocent throughout the novel. She stops the lynch mob from killing Tom and her childish costume saves her from Bob Ewell at the end. Innocence can put you in danger though, so her loss of it as the book progresses is not always a bad thing. For example, Tom's innocence led to him being convicted of ****** Mayella, and Boo's innocence and kindness led to him risking his life to save the childrens
- Mockingbird: The two main Mockingbirds are Tom and Boo because they are both victims of predjudice, they are compassionate, they are innocent and kind. Tom's death is compared to with the "senseless slaughter of songbirds" by Mr underwood at the end of the novel.
- Bravery: This is also a big part of the novel. Mrs Dubose shows bravery when she comes off her morphine addiction to die free - but this puts her through so much pain. Also, Atticus is brave because he knows he is going to lose the trial but he goes ahead anyway. Also, Mr Link Deas is brave when he stands up for Tom in court and protects Helen after his death, and Mr Underwood is also couragous when he writes and article describing the unfairness of Tom's death at the end of the novel.
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- Seeing past predjudices: Empathy in the book allows people to see past racist attitudes and understand each other better. Mr Underwood does this when he writes the article about Tom. The jury also are kept out for a long time when deciding Tom's fate and Mr Cunningham says he is innocent having previously turned up for the lynch mob.
- Teaching Reader: Harper Lee could be seen as teaching the reader a lesson to see things from other people's point of view when Atticus teaches Scout the same thing in Chapter 3.
- No empathy: We cannot feel empathy for all the characters. Bob Ewell has no redeemable qualities, and neither does Mrs Merriweather. However, we can begin to understand Mayella Ewell's behaviour, as she was beaten by her father, and is overworked. Francis has no empathy, but this is only because of his family background. He uses racist language becasue he hears it at home.
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Theme: Growing Up
- Start: At the start of the novel, the children are very innocent. They play childish games and dares and have very simple relationships with one another. For example, Scout beats up Walter Cunningham, but then invites him to luch afterwards which shows how they don't hold grudges.
- Middle: As the trial begins, Jem and Scout are forced to grow up and think about more adlut issues.
- End: At the end, they have learnt alot. Scout learns to see things from other people's perspective's as she stands on Boo's porch. However, she falls asleep on Atticus' knee in the evening which reminds the reader that she is still a child.
- Jem: Jem grows up the most in the novel. Calpurnia refers to him as "Mister Jem" and Miss Maudie lets him have a slice of the adults cake at the table. Scout describes his breaking "the remaining code of our childhood" which shows how he is maturing and wants to look after both Scout and Dill.
- Bildungsroman: This is a novel which focuses on the children grwoing up and learning new things. It is narated by Scout as a child which gives it a very innocent and distant view - allowing the reader to be less predjudiced.
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