Power in to Kill a Mockingbird
Claim: In To Kill a Mockingbird, Miss Maudie and Atticus teach Scout and Jem lessons of power and true courage, ultimately to help them overcome the social norm of what courage is, and to understand the power divided by race.
Scout is spending the summer with Dill and Jem, but Dill and Jem become closer and they begin to leave her out of their plans. Hurt, Scout decides to spend her summer with Miss. Maudie, one of her friendly neighbors. They start talking about Boo Radley one day, and the conversation shifts to the Bible and sins. Mr. Arthur is brought up and Miss Maudie says to Scout, You are too young to understand it, but sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whiskey bottle in the hand of- oh your father (Lee, 60). Scout defends Atticus saying he doesn’t, and Miss Maudie clarifies she wasn’t talking about Atticus. Miss Maudie uses the Bible to symbolize good power and authority, and whiskey to symbolize the negative impact that alcohol can have on people, and ultimately what she teaches Scout is that the power that was once used for providing good to a community, ultimately in the wrong hands, leads to corruption of power, and is more harmful than the effects of alcohol on a person. It’s clearly demonstrated that the power distribution among Scouts small town is subjected to race and wealth. Those who are white, and are wealthy are very powerful and have a large influence on the community, and the ones with power often have much against the negroes in their town, causing an imbalance of social justice. Therefore, Miss Maudie’s advice help Scout understand why everyone in her community is so against Atticus defending the Tom Robinson, and understand the injustice against the Black families in her community. Miss Maudie’s lesson is also applicable in real-life situations, as many people in today’s day and age who have power, are corrupt and selfish. Instead of the power being a positive influence on a community, ultimately leads to harmful effects in society as a whole.
Jem has just finished his reading sessions with Ms. Dubose and Atticus comes home and tells Jem that Ms. Dubose had just passed away, and that she had been fighting a morphine addiction. The reading sessions that Jem was giving Ms.Dubose were coping mechanisms to help with the addiction. Atticus tells Jem, I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and you see through it no matter what. ( Lee, 149). When Atticus shot the mad dog, Jem believed that was true courage, and so Atticus explains to Jem that true courage is ultimately to do what you think is right, no matter how hard it will be or how different it is from everyone else’s opinion, and following through with it. Atticus gives this advice to Jem because Atticus knows that the idea of courage in their community is the idea of a man with a gun in his hand , and that people’s opinions aren’t respected if they’re different from the norm . Atticus doesn’t want Jem to follow these norms. Atticus’ advice will come into play with the trial, because he is defending Tom Robinson, and because he is defending a black person, the whole community will be against him-including Jem and Scout, and Jem will need true courage in order to stand up against the norms of society. The lesson Atticus told Jem is important for people to learn as well because as a society, we shouldn’t be suppressed a majority just because it is the norm , instead each person needs to have courage in order to stand up for what’s right, even if it means going against society.