To Kill A Mockingbird Caiden Bretz

Tolerance and Courage

Within the novel To Kill A Mockingbird many characters displayed courageous traits that were not normal at the time this book took place. The most popular example of this would be Atticus’ attempt to defend a black man in court with dignity. This showed courage because colored people did not have much during this time period and were being heavily discriminated. So, for a successful, white man like Atticus to befriend him, and help his side of the case, was very brave, and he was frowned upon for that.

As for the town of Maycomb, the characters that the reader was able to get to know, showed much tolerance. Unlike some minor characters, these more main ones believed in ideas and values similar to Atticus. These characters were very close to Scout, Jem, and Atticus, which allowed them to share their values of tolerance, and vice versa. Because of segregation at this time, many people were unable to tolerate colored people, because of rumors, stereotypes, and prejudice.

Historical Context

The novel "To Kill A Mockingbird" took place in the 1930s, in the American state of Alabama. During these years The Great Depression was occurring. The Great Depression was a very sad, poverty stricken time for American citizens. Leaving 14 million Americans unemployed, about half of the banks in the country bankrupt, The Great Depression took its toll on the country. Industry, production, and business was decimated and left in debt.

Another problem, known as Segregation was also taking place. This, as well, was a sad time period for the U.S.. During segregationist times, African-American people were being discriminated simply because of the color of their skin. They were severely treated unfairly. Colored people were recently set free of slavery, but nowhere near being treated with equality. It was difficult for them to find jobs, get money, and own property, especially in a state like Alabama. With African-American's status, and The Great Depression's effects on the country, America was not doing very well.

In the novel, the Finches are not affected by The Great Depression, but their lives are, however, interfered with the problems of segregation. Atticus' opponent in court, the Ewells, were affected by both of these major dilemmas. They were a very poor family, suffering from the economic crash of 1929, unable to find work, had little money, and made them depressed people. Bob Ewell, father and former husband, attempted to use segregation as a weapon to hopefully be compensated. He, wrongfully, accused a black man of raping his daughter, and took him to court. Because colored people were treated unfairly, Bob expected to win the case easily. However, a much wealthier, nicer, person, Atticus Finch, the best lawyer in the town of Maycomb, was asked to defend the black man. After barely winning the case, Bob Ewell blamed all of his financial and personal problems on Atticus. To the reader, it was easy to assume that Bob was greatly affected by The Great Depression, even though the author does not specifically say.


The main theme this book expressed, was that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird. The reason it is a sin is because they are innocent, provide us with melody, and do nothing to harm us, whatsoever. Although the novel has nothing to do with an actual mockingbird, the theme still strongly relates to almost everyone in it. There are a couple of characters that can be seen as a representation of a mockingbird. The best example, Tom Robinson, fits all reasons that Atticus gave as to why not to kill. Tom was innocent in the case of the court, provided the town with useful abilities, and did nothing to harm anyone.It is not easy to observe these things when reading, but after careful comprehension, it becomes obvious that the title of the book is not just restating Atticus' lesson to his kids, but Harper Lee's lesson to everyone.

Another character that could be seen as a mockingbird is Jem or Scout. They, both, were innocent kids, until over the course of the book, were tainted with the harsh, cruel reality of society. They did nothing, of any kind, to harm others, but instead were hurt, indirectly, but other characters' prejudice and unfair treatment.

To Kill A Mockingbird is a very important novel to American literature because it helps display a message; not everything is going to end up the way it should, but instead ends up how it was going to from the beginning. It teaches readers that being honest and fair does not get you anywhere, when prejudice minds are already made up, previously.

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