03 Nov 2008

Essays on To Kill a Mockingbird

Though many books have caught hell from would-be censors, the 1960 novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee, has earned more ire than most, primarily for its use of racial epithets. Set in the deep southern states, “To Kill a Mockingbird” addresses a wide range of social issues, from interracial relationships and discrimination to the loss of childhood innocence and deception in the pursuit of justice.

The main character in “To Kill a Mockingbird” is “Scout,” a young, ten-year-old girl who lives with her older brother and her father. To Kill a Mockingbird” has many underlying structures to its plot, including the random musings of Scout, her brother Jem, and their friend Dill regarding the mysterious “Boo” Radley, a seldom seen neighbor who seems at first mythical, though later is proved to exist by the appearance of mysterious gifts in the tree outside Scout’s home. Scout’s life is complicated by her father’s agreeing to represent a black man, Tom Robinson, in a rape trial where he stands accused of raping a white woman, and the aftermath of that trial.

The aftermath of this accusation and the subsequent events shows the devastating effects of false accusations, wrongful convictions, and personal petty vendettas – issues that still haunt our society today.

  • Would-be censors decry “To Kill a Mockingbird” as racially inflammatory because of its use of racial slurs and epithets. Proponents of the work argue that its use is necessary to accurately depict the racial discrimination and tensions of the era in which the story is set. Create an opinion paper reflecting your view on the subject. Don’t forget to present the basic argument from each side before establishing your own position, instructors almost universally take points off for that.
  • Through the events of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” the characters Scout and Jem undergo significant development. Describe this development and the reasons behind it. How does this development affect their world view?

Though our society has made great changes in racial relations since “To Kill a Mockingbird” was written, advocates argue that we still have much work ahead of us. Incidents such as the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles and the KKK rally turned riot in Denver, Colorado are used as anecdotal evidence supporting this claim.

Our writers keep their fingers on the pulse of our nation and world, spending as much time reading the news and literary publications as they do writing to keep abreast of such developments. This dedication not only to writing but to knowledge itself gives them particular insight in writing essays on “To Kill a Mockingbird” and similar works critical of our society and its practices.

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