Fear in to kill a mockingbird By Allison Baker

Everyone is afraid of things. Just like in To Kill A Mockingbird there are things in the real world that people do because they are scared. These fears can make people do things that they know are wrong. A historical article The Psychology and Neuroscience of Terrorism by Sandy LaMotte refers to 9/11 and how fear affects our brains. A current event article The Real Whistle Blower In Police Brutality also has a theme of fear. These two articles and To Kill A Mockingbird shows how fear makes people do irrational things.

The Psychology and Neuroscience of Terrorism article by Sandy LaMotte from CNN was about how fear can affect our brains. Sandy LaMotte writes when she is talking about fear that it can “affect the way you think and change the decisions you make”. This relates to To Kill a Mockingbird through Mr. Ewell and Mayella Ewell. Mayella Ewell was afraid of her father which made her accuse Tom of raping her, something she wouldn’t normally do. The book shows that Mayella was afraid of her father because after Atticus accused Bob Ewell of beating her, Mayella’s face was “a mixture of terror and fury”(Lee 251). Mayella was probably also scared of the feelings she had for Tom. At the time To Kill a Mockingbird is set in, it was not normal for a white woman to fall in love with a African American man. During the trial, Tom said that Mayella “reached up an’ kissed me” (Lee 260) which shows that she loves him. Since it wasn’t normal in society she acted irrationally and lied.

This picture is Mayella's heart breaking after her dad finds her kissing Tom

The article also said that terrorists are also afraid of things. One of their biggest fears is that they will be forgotten. John Horgan who is an American science journalist told CNN “Terrorist groups live in constant fear of being seen as irrelevant or outdated”(LaMotte). According to the 9/11 memorial and museum website, they said that “Al-Qaeda hoped that by attacking these symbols of American power, they would promote widespread fear throughout the country”. Mr. Ewell was scared of being forgotten, like the terrorists were. Bob didn’t want to be forgotten like Tom had. After Tom died, when Scout and Atticus drove past the dump the Ewells started yelling at them and Scout started thinking about how “Maycomb was interested by the news of Tom’s death for perhaps two days” (Lee 322). Mr. Ewell was most likely thinking the same thing and didn’t want him to be forgotten like he had been before the trial. Because Bob didn’t want to be in the dark again he started causing trouble. He broke into Judge Taylor's house, stalked Tom’s wife and attacked Jem and Scout. Like the terrorist during 9/11, Mr. Ewell was trying to stay relevant and make people afraid of him.

Relating to the police brutality

The second article I found that related to To Kill a Mockingbird was The Real Whistle Blower In Police Brutality by Aaron Paxton Arnold. This article was about police brutality and how it relates to racism and fear. An example from the page would be an African American man, Scott who was killed by police officer while running away with his back turned. The officer claimed that “Scott had taken his stun gun”(Arnold) which was proven false after video evidence. The officer at the time probably did fear his life, but not because he took his stun gun. He was most likely scared because Scott was African American and he was racially biased. The officer tried to use the stun gun as a way to justify his actions. This relates to To Kill a Mockingbird through Mr. Ewell. Mr. Ewell, like the cop was probably scared when he saw Mayella kissing Tom. He didn’t want his reputation to be worse than it already was. He acted irrationally just as the cop did, but instead of shooting Tom Bob took him to court and lied about what happened like how the cop lied about Scott having a stun gun. Bob thought that if he won the trial people would think better of him, but as Miss Maudie told Jem when Jem was wondering who helped Tom she said “ His colored friends for one thing, and people like us. People like Judge Taylor. People like Mr. Heck Tate” (Lee 288). What Miss Maudie says shows that not everyone supports Mr. Ewell. Mr. Ewell gets angry at the people who don’t agree with him and in a way it makes him frightened because people already think badly about him. Bob attacks the Finch kids because he is angry at Atticus for going against him at the trial and also attacks because he is scared about what could happen to him if people think worse of him.

Fear can make people do irrational things. It can make you attack people for being afraid of being forgotten. It can make you accuse an innocent person of rape, like Mayella because you are afraid of getting hurt. Fear can also relate to racism, because if someone is a racist it can make them scared of someone like the officer was scared of Scott and someone dies. Fear is a scary thing because of it’s effect on us. What have you done because you were afraid?

A picture of fear and a mockingbird


Arnold, Aaron Paxton. "Police Brutality: The Real Whistle-blower." CNN. Cable News Network, 07 Aug. 2015. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.

"FAQ about 9/11." National September 11 Memorial & Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.

LaMotte, Sandee. "What Terror Does to Your Brain." CNN. Cable News Network, 15 July 2016. Web. 26 Mar. 2017.

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Grand Central, 2010. Print.


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