Point of View - To Kill a Mockingbird Kyle Heller

Entry 1: Atticus on guard
Perspective: Atticus

What is it like to be a calm, collected, and level headed individual faced with almost certain failure in the protection of another man? Not only this, but what about when faced with a threat that could end your very life, leaving you children parentless, as you are the only true parental figure they look up to, figuratively and biologically? Atticus has a lot to lose, but one key difference is that he willingly puts himself in this position. By no means is Atticus inferior in intelligence, yet he still puts himself into situations that risk everything he knows and loves. Why? He knows that know one else will lead the fight, that of which is part of the battle to get rid of the racism that plagues Maycomb. One can only imagine the sheer willpower and mental fortitude required to keep a calm and collected composure when seeing four cars stop in front of you with truly evil intentions. Not only this, but it must be heartwarming to see the very children you love turn a terrible situation into the worst one imaginable, then into one of safety, returning the present into the same position five minutes in the past where the previous problem was not too close for comfort.

Entry 2: Bob Ewell’s Story
Perspective: Bob Ewell

Imagine yourself. You are surrounded by peers and other individuals that have essentially extremely similar views are yourself. There may be a few people who go against your most basic beliefs, but they are the minority. Now imagine nearly 80 years into the future. Your beliefs are now the minority, and those voices crying against you are now the popular opinion. These beliefs aren’t as simple as what the best food is. No, these beliefs operate at the fundamental level of society. While it is quite frank that Bob Ewell is a disgusting, racist pig of the past, one does need to understand that he comes from a time where “equal rights” was just a phrase. Can you truly fault a man born into a society where the “norm” is different than today’s standards? While we can look back and say “he was wrong,” nothing truly dictates what will be wrong about our thinking today. If he were to be placed into today’s society, he would be considered mentally ill, and fairly quickly swept under the rug. Back then, he had all the reason in the world to think that his actions were correct, placing himself above others declaring that their opinions didn’t matter. He wasn’t alone either, considering he had backing from nearly everyone else as racist as him. His actions were deemed correct to him, acceptable to most the town, and outright horrendous to anyone in the majority today.

Entry 3: Shielded from Outside Stimulation
Perspective: Mayella Ewell

No friends, no relations, no contact to the outside world. This describes Mayella flawlessly. Now, think about how narrow minded Bob Ewell seems, being in a society in a time period where a certain way of thinking of considered correct. It makes sense for him to fall into this category, but now think about someone “sheltered” under his roof with no connection to the outside world. Her views are bound to be skewed. What can you expect of her? It must be so strange thinking in a way that makes others believe you are “dumb,” for example, the infamous feral child case of Genie. While Mayella’s situation is not as extreme as Genie, as Genie was locked in a room with no outside stimulation, resulting in no development of language, the point still stands. In her mind she may not even have a clue at what is going on during court. She may think it is perfectly acceptable to protect her father and pick on the colored man. Humans are social creatures, so the effort made to “tempt a negro” is understood as a simple resultant of biology.

Entry 4: Amplified Shyness
Perspective: Boo Radley

Mayella isn’t the only person in the book to be shielded from outside contact much more than from a stereotypical “helicopter parent.” Boo Radley, a man who had all the attention he could ever want from the children of Maycomb, but couldn’t interact due to an “Iron Curtain.” This curtain is figured out to be as simple as a shy personality, causing Boo to be isolated by potentially his own choice. For years, Boo was too shy to reveal himself to the world, to the point where stories were formed with him being considered the villain. Not only this, but those “closest” to him didn’t even know his true name until the tail end of the story. Imagine your life, split up into chapters, in which you are ungodly shy. Because of this you become the main villain of the town’s imagination, but in doing so they don’t even know your first name. There may have been a point in Boo’s life where he was at an average level of shyness, but after introducing rumors and stress he may have descended into the abyss of zero willpower, not being able to bring himself out into the world until absolutely needed. This need was saving of Jem and Scout, turning a long time villain into a friendly hero.

Entry 5: Reflection

Assignments like this should be much more common in education, as it not only allows for students to understand different viewpoints of a story, but helps develop the skills needed for sympathy and proper debating structure. I find it that many people are too quick to judging people, especially from a different time period, and while it may be fair to label someone as “disgusting” or absolutely racist due to today’s common beliefs, it can lead to an interesting discussion on how it was essentially the norm back then. Unless people want to change, they won’t, and when they believe that they are doing something right and aren’t open about it, they will continue doing so. The change from racist to equal rights can’t, and wasn’t done by simply talking to people and convincing them to change. Instead, it was done over a generation, slowly forcing a different belief to be the popular one by introducing it as the correct concept when young. This however is no different than how others formed the very opinions and beliefs that are seen by some to be inhuman. I believe that this was a major reason for this assignment, as people tend to not be open minded during a debate. Rarely do I see people willing to admit that they are wrong, mostly because they are so adamant that they are correct that they don’t even take a glance at another argument. This is a valuable skill, and I am glad that it is being given more attention.

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