Life Lessons in to Kill a Mockingbird
Is it okay if someone does everything they’re told to do, they’re completely innocent, yet the majority of people they know still treat them unfairly? Is it okay to kill someone that was just fighting for his freedom? He wanted to know what freedom felt like, but he had it taken away from him with just one swift movement. One pull of a trigger. Picture having only one chance at escaping the dark world that some people live in, and having that ripped away from you. People are dragged into fights they don’t want to be a part of. They’re taken advantage of. In Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird we see that mockingbirds take a really big part in what the story’s message is. ‘I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the the back yard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’ That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. ‘You’re father’s right,’ she said. ‘Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s garden, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’ (Lee 119) The first thing that came to my mind when I read this was, Mockingbirds represent the negroes in this story.
In a lot of ways, this book shows us what it’s really like in the real world. The good guys hardly ever win, and the innocent are proven guilty. Take Tom Robinson’s case, for example. I shut my eyes. Judge Taylor was polling the jury: ‘Guilty…guilty…guilty…guilty’ (Lee 282) This quote paints the scenario of when a guiltless man was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. Tom went through absolute hell, finding himself wrongfully placed in the middle of all the trouble. All he wanted to do was lend a helping hand, and Mayella Ewell, being ashamed that she was attracted to a negro, used that to her advantage. ‘I said come here, n****r, and bust up this chiffarobe for me, I gotta nickel for you. He coulda done it easy enough, he could. So he come in the yard an’ I went in the house to get him the nickel and I turned around and ‘fore I knew it he was on me. Just run up behind me, he did. He got me round the neck, cussin’ me an’ sayin’ dirt-I fought’n’hollered, but he had me round the neck. He hit me agin an’ agin-‘(Lee 241) Mayella and her father had the upper hand the whole time, and everyone knew it. They would never take a white man’s word for granted. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella opened her mouth and screamed. (Lee 323) The Ewells’ made up their filthy lies that eventually cost a man his life.
Many people think that Mayella Ewell is a victim, but I have to say that I strongly disagree. Mayella, having grown up in a town that’s so heavily prejudiced against negroes, knew for a fact that making a move towards Tom Robinson would endanger his life if she was caught. She also knew that her father was the kind of person to beat her for her actions and make her lie about the whole event. Mayella had no business trying to kiss Tom, plus he had a wife and kids, all of which he was trying to say while she tried to get with him. What Mayella did was, essentially, trying to engage with a man without establishing whether he wanted to or not. Her selfishness and her humility sacrificed an innocent man, whom she was too ashamed to admit that she was attracted to.
As a result of Mayella’s narrow-minded actions, a husband and a father was lost. ‘Given,’ said Atticus. ‘Tom Robinson’s a colored man, Jem. No jury in this world’s going to say, ‘We think you’re guilty, but not really,’ on a charge like that.’ (Lee 294) So right now I’m asking, What would happen if it was a black man accusing a white man of raping his 19 year old daughter? Would it be different? Would there even be a court case? Maycomb was so biased against negroes, they probably wouldn’t even care. What comes to my attention is that no one, except Atticus, tries to stand up for a negroe, but even Atticus knows his limits on what he can do to help. ‘In our courts, when it’s a white mans’ word against a black mans’, the white man always wins. They’re ugly, but those are the facts of life.’ (Lee 295)
This novel shows us that in life, the people that are in the wrong are often portrayed as the victims. It shows us that people break down, they fight, and it shows that everyone has to make some serious sacrifices. To Kill A Mockingbird is a story that has changed many peoples’ perspective on things.