To Kill A Mockingbird - Themes, Motifs and Symbols

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The Coexistence of Good and Evil

  • Explores the moral nature of human beings
  • Dramatizes Scout's and Jem's transition from a perspective of childhood innocence to a more adult perspective
  • Threat hatred, prejudice and ignorance pose to the innocent
  • Atticus Finch is the moral voice - recognises that people have good and bad qualities
  • Tries to teach Scout and Jem to appreciate good qualities and understand the bad
  • Tom Robinson and Boo Radley are not prepared for the evil that they encounter and are destroyed
  • Jem is victimized by his discovery of the evil of racism during and after the trial
  • Scout is able to maintain her basic faith in human nature despite Tom's conviction
  • Atticus is able to admire Mrs. Dubose's courage even while deploring her racism

The Importance of Moral Education

  • Exploration of moral questions takes place within the perspective of children - the plot charts Scout's moral education
  • Atticus devotes himself to instilling a social conscience in Jem and Scout
  • Most important lessons are those of sympathy and understanding, and a sympathetic, understanding approach is the best way to teach them
  • Atticus's ability to put himself in his children's shoes makes him an excellent teacher, Miss Caroline's rigid commitment to educational techniques she learnt in college makes her ineffective and dangerous
  • Scout says she has learnt practically everything except algebra
  • scout is frequently confronted by teachers who are either unsympathetic to children's needs or


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