“To Kill a Mockingbird” Essay Writing Guide

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As a good opening sentence for “To Kill a Mockingbird essay”, you may write that the novel by Harper Lee, the first work of a young American writer, once again confirms that there are no banal themes and plots. There are only banal methods of writing. This novel published in 1960 entered the classics of modern literature and is very popular to this day.

Review of the book for a “To Kill a Mockingbird” literary analysis essay

Starting the essay on “To Kill a Mockingbird”, it is worth immersing the reader in the atmosphere of the book. A small sultry town in Alabama, South of the USA, should appear before their eyes. It is so small that the residents recognize each other just hearing the voice.

Harper Lee masterly depicted the memories of a distant childhood full of joys, discoveries, and extraordinary incidents; a mysterious recluse who rescues two kids from the knife of the murderer, in the final; the school to which, in truth, children do not want to go; a strict aunt who unsuccessfully tries to instill the rules of good taste in the house; a stern but devoted black nanny who replaces the children's mother; endless games which are not approved by adults, night walks and shoots, comic adventures.

In various forms, all these images repeatedly appeared in American literature before, starting with the classics - stories about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. No less familiar is the main dramatic situation of the book which should become the central point of a “To Kill a Mockingbird essay - social inequality”: the trial of a black man falsely accused of violence; blows of fate endured by an honest and courageous lawyer who undertook to defend the accused but, however, is helpless before the onslaught of age-old racist prejudices.

Unique manner of writing

All this already "worn out" life and literary material helped Harper Lee to write an interesting book in which the freshness and independence of thought may be found. The narrative manner of the author is quite peculiar. The story is conveyed on behalf of the heroine - a little girl Jean Louise nicknamed Scout. Everything that happens is presented through the perception of the child - interested, observant, independent in judgments, but in general, an ordinary, naive child.

From time to time, discreetly interrupting the girl, the adult Jean Louise enters the narration of the story. It is a clever, ironic woman who, obviously, did not lose her former independence of judgments. You may describe this contrast in a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay on maturity.

Such "mobile" angle of view allows the writer to go beyond the limits of the child's perception, to talk about the most serious and funniest things retaining all the charm of immediacy. Harper Lee made it without a banal method of "various storytellers" which was already presented in the Western novel.

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The main characters of the book

Jean Louise Finch hardly remembers her mother. She, along with her brother Jem who is four years older than her, is brought up by father. She takes part in all the boyish games, climbs the fences and trees in her overalls, doesn't want to wear a skirt or a dress instead of them. And friends nicknamed her Scout. But now her brother has a blond buddy Dill who sees a girl in Jean Louise. He kisses her before leaving for home. And, appearing next summer, says that they should have a baby. The girl asks where to get it.

Dill heard that there is one man who has a boat. He swims to some island where there is always fog and as many small children as possible, and they can ask him to bring a baby. No, it's not true. Children are born one from another. But this man with a boat also can bring the one. He has as many as you want on the island. They just need to be woken up. He will blow, and they will immediately come to life.

Children create around them a mysterious, fantastically romantic world of prejudices about the place where you can meet the soul of a deceased person who does not have a way to heaven. From urban gossip around the Radley family, they create their own misty world where babies sleep and just wait to be picked up like flowers in the morning, a world of secrets and riddles. They do not need to be entertained. Children's imagination is enough to make life fascinating and bright.

However, it’s worth stressing in a character analysis of Scout in a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay that she and her friends are not detached from the real world, they realize everything that is going on around. Rather because of regret for the young teacher, they listen to the tale about cats that visit each other and dress in various clothes. They understand difficult situations, they feel people.

Many critics consider this book childish because, in the story told by Jean Louise, three persons are the most active figures: she herself, her brother Jeremy (Jem) and their friend Dill. But this book is suitable for adult reader owing to Jean Louise's and Jem's father Atticus Finch, a lawyer, the protagonist of the narrative, a hero in the most accurate and full sense of the word. It's such an interesting character that you can write a separate “To Kill a Mockingbird: Atticus” essay.

However, in appearance and habits, he is absolutely "anti-heroic". This quiet widower under fifty years old is always a little tired, sits in the armchair reading a newspaper or a book in the evenings, "knows nothing" compared to other fathers, as his daughter sadly noted. However, with the objectiveness and dislike for sentiments inherent to the Finch family, Jean Louise, presenting the father to the readers, speaks of him briefly and clearly. She and her brother believed that their dad was not bad: he played with them, read them aloud, always was polite and fair.

Jean Louise did not lie. She can only be reproached for excessive restraint. Even before her father, having turned almost the whole city against himself, undertakes to protect the doomed black man Robinson, readers are convinced that Atticus Finch is a man of that kind which is usually called "real", apparently, because of the abundance of surrogates.

You can emphasize in a “To Kill a Mockingbird" literary essay that he is endowed with the highest qualities of mind and heart, and, at the same time, the reader is not at all oppressed by excessive perfection of his nature. This is a good test of the mastery of Harper Lee, her feeling of artistic action. We quickly become imbued with a warm feeling in relation to Atticus, cheerfully sympathize with vicissitudes and surprises (mostly unpleasant) of life of a happy father of two dearest kids somewhat oversaturated with energy and ingenuity.

Only once in the life, Atticus had to take a gun in his hands. A rabid dog ran along the street, and then it turned out that, despite his poor eyesight, Finch was the best shooter of the city in his youth. Only once in his professional life, Atticus Finch agreed to deal with an almost hopeless case, which, as he knew, would bring many troubles not only to him but also to his children. He did not seek this test but did not avoid it too. You may describe a real feat of empathy in a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay.

During his entire life, Atticus did not utter a single demagogic phrase. Telling something to his children or answering their at times very risky questions, he usually resorted to a somewhat parodic, dry legal style. And when in court, completely breaking the version built by the prosecutors of Tom Robinson, he utters his speech, there are no loud words in it, no plea for pity, no escalation of emotions. He sets forth and compares the facts, appeals to the common sense of the jury, reminds them of the equality of all before the law, asks to fulfill their duty conscientiously.

The jury, most of whom are local farmers sullen due to bitter depression (the action takes place in the mid-thirties), can't imagine how it is possible to believe a "nigger" and not to believe a white man, no matter who he is, recognize Tom Robinson guilty. Later, he dies in prison when tries to escape without waiting for the result of the appeal filed by Finch, not believing in the possibility of a successful outcome of the case.

Still, Finch's speech, his calm, laconic courage was not completely useless. It turns out that the members of the jury were not unanimous.

The memory of the injustice remained in the hearts of many citizens. Some of them made their conclusions, which should be mentioned as an important achievement in a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay on the Maycomb caste system.

Atticus Finch just did not shy away from civil, human, professional duty. He completely fulfilled it, without internal compromises, because the whole life he felt (and conveyed this feeling to children) a deep contempt for "scum" that do not see the human in a black person, are always ready to deceive and offend him.

It’s worth mentioning in a “Who is the most courageous character in To Kill a Mockingbird?” essay that Finch did not look for an opportunity to brag about his hardiness. However, the night before the court he was told that Robinson was locked up in prison and threatened with lynching, Atticus took a lamp, a book, a chair from his office, hanged a lamp over the prison door and sat down to read.

Old cars with aggressive people really drove up. The conversation between the gloomy farmers who had drunk for bravery and Atticus did not foreshadow anything good. If there was no dramatic emergence of children that defused the atmosphere, the matter could end sadly.

As Atticus said the next morning at breakfast, every crowd consists of people. And there was one more thought he conveyed already on the last page of the book, near the bed of his daughter: all people are good if they are understood. He uttered this phrase on that tragic night when Bob Ewell (Tom Robinson's accuser who did not forgive Atticus for own disgrace on the court) almost killed both of the kids, and Jem was maimed for life. You can use one of these wise expressions to criticize prejudice in a “To Kill a Mockingbird essay”.

The percentage of good people is clearly overstated here, although beautiful idealism is not at all typical of Atticus Finch, a man who has changed his mind a lot of times and is not afraid of the truth. The author herself makes the necessary amendments to the declaration of her hero. Rather, the amendments inevitably arise from the very content of the novel.

Atticus Finch is not a rebel, not an outsider in his town and district, where have already been five generations of the Finch family. Once they were rich landowners but later had to exist with very limited earnings of lawyers, doctors, farmers.

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Description of problems raised in the book for a “To Kill a Mockingbird" paper

The fact that Atticus Finch, a peaceful, friendly, careful neighbor, an embodiment of delicacy and tolerance, turned out to be outcast, speaks of the hidden forces of wild prejudices and unconscious cruelty that still exist in the externally lazy, idyllic atmosphere of a patriarchal town.  This is the basis for a description of social inequality in a “To Kill a Mockingbird essay”.

The gloomy traditions live secretly and ominously, like the unhappy Radley family in their "accursed" house behind tightly closed shutters. The age-old formula turns out to be stronger than intelligence, stronger than neighborly relations, stronger than personal decency: a black man must be kept in place.

Very reservedly, not in a journalistic form but with the help of facts (important and small, seen by the child's wide-open eyes), Harper Lee touches upon the main thing in the tight knot of problems associated with the so-called "negro issue" in the South of the USA. She shows how the most ordinary, good (in their own way) and sometimes oppressed by stagnation, ignorance or just spiritual cowardice, people turn out to be accomplices in the crime against humanity - racial discrimination. Write about this contrast in a “To Kill a Mockingbird essay on appearance vs reality”.

The writer speaks about the main problem of her book directly and sharply. However, unlike many of her Southern colleagues, she does not seek to make dominant the topic of cruelty and moral turmoil. The narrative is accompanied by a surprisingly nice, healthy in mind and body Jean Louise nicknamed Scout, and this, of course, determines the general major tone, contrary to the tragic episodes. Everything that seems to be the most successful, strong and attractive in the first book of the American novelist is connected with Jean Louise, Jem, and Atticus.

Criticism

In a “Compare-contrast To Kill a Mockingbird essay”, you can recognize the writer's undeniable genius, but, nevertheless, admit that she used some clichés. The story with the prosecution of Tom Robinson still bears the imprint of a literary stereotype, perhaps, because of the image of a stereotypical "good black man" (i.e. an obedient person who knows his place, "a descendant of Uncle Tom"). The family of the poacher and drunkard Bob Ewell who gets money for living from charity, lives in a state close to the bestial, is depicted very expressively, in that laconic and acute manner that is inherent in the writer.

But Ewell’s "one hundred percent evil" takes on a somewhat melodramatic tinge, when, unsatisfied with petty mucks and public threats, he tries to take revenge on Finch by killing his children. This is simply unlikely, and it seems that the author needed such events mainly to bring it to the extreme and somehow resolve the storyline associated with the mysterious figure of the Boo Radley.

The second mockingbird

Atticus was persecuted, threatened. His children were attacked at night when they were returning from a school event. It’s worth describing the courageous act in a “Boo Radley: To Kill a Mockingbird” essay: the son of the neighbor's family accidentally appeared at the right place in the right time and protected the kids. This is a completely desocialized person devoid of communication with people. As a teenager, he committed a crime for which his parents kept him in the house as a prisoner.

Protecting children in total darkness, Radley accidentally kills the attacker with his own weapon. Understanding the situation over the body of a wounded son who is unconscious, Atticus is ready to certify in court that the offender was killed by the boy who defended his own life. This is the only way to avoid Radley’s unjust punishment. Then it was decided to say that Bob Ewell fell on his knife.

It’s quite surprising that untruth was approved by the young Jean Louise who was present at the attack. She assured that understood everything. The girl traced the connection between the image of the mockingbird and the situation which occurred with Radley, so it's worth mentioning this character along with Tom Robinson in a “Who is the mockingbird in To Kill a Mockingbird?” essay.

Information for “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay topics on gender inequality

Mostly, Harper Lee devoted her book to the problem of racial oppression. However, against the background of the persecution of black people, another social imbalance emerges - the poor treatment of women, which should be stressed in a “Gender bias. To Kill a Mockingbird essay”.

The fate of Mayella Ewell is especially tragic. Given her father's antisocial image, distressing situation in the family, poverty, abundance of household responsibilities that fell on the young girl, it is not at all surprising that her character is dominated by cowardice and hidden desires which she is afraid to express.

In the gray reality, the Tom Robinson's kindness seemed to her a ray of clear sunshine. She was imbued with sympathy for the black man, thereby showing that racial differences have absolutely no significance. People are united by kindness, humanity, and not by skin color.

Her feelings put Tom Robinson in a rather difficult position. He was too conscientious and honest to take the opportunity and respond to Mayella's caresses. So he hurried to leave her house. Bob Ewell became a witness to the daughter's indecent behavior, got furious and punished her. As a result, the blame for the violence was attributed to Tom, which initiated a trial.

Throughout the trial, Mayella shamelessly lied, of course, under the pressure of her father. She represented all the unprotected women of that time. Even if she defended Tom, what future would await her? Robinson would return to the family and she would forever remain intimidated, alone. Of course, she can be blamed. But this situation was provoked by the imperfection of laws, the lack of protection for women.

While describing gender prejudice in a “To Kill a Mockingbird essay”, fear, lack of will, submission to men should be emphasized as the main features that Harper Lee wanted to portray in this character.

During the trial, Mayella was overwhelmed by emotions. She was afraid due to this serious situation. Throughout the life, fear hung over her heart and has reached its apogee then. On the one hand, her father pushed her, and on the other - Atticus who operated with facts skillfully and noted inaccuracies in her testimony.

Could Mayella acted differently? Theoretically, of course, yes. But in practice – it was very unlikely. Given the kind of society in which she grew up, that she did not have any education, no sense of security and personal dignity, most likely, thousands of frightened girls of that time would act just the same way. Compiling “To Kill a Mockingbird essay. Questions and answers”, you may ask: “Is Mayella a villain?” No, rather, she should be considered as another victim of a brutal regime.

The moral message of the novel

One of the most important topics for “To Kill a Mockingbird essay” is a benchmark of kindness, honesty, and moral strength to which Atticus brings his children. Reading the book, we notice that, behind the words of Jean Louise, there are adult thoughts about the fact that being a human means to be able to distinguish the cry of a wild bird from imitating of this cry by a mockingbird; being a human is to realize that almost all people are good when you eventually understand them. This aphoristically expressed idea is consonant with the girl's worldview, since children generally have a heightened sense of justice.

Describing family relationships in a “To Kill a Mockingbird essay”, you may state that, at the end of the novel, the educational system of Atticus was practically tested. It showed that children always need to be told the truth. Atticus believed that when a child asks about something, parents do not have to shy away. It's better to answer. There's no sense in inventing unrealistic excuses. Children are children, but they notice contradictions as well as adults, and any deceit confuses them.

Atticus sought to adhere to his rules, despite the fact that Jean Louise asked difficult questions. When the whole city was discussing the future rape investigation, she asked who a whore-lady is and what the rape is. Atticus replied that this is the carnal possession of women by force and without her consent. The girl was surprised. The truth appeared to be simple enough. Although, when she asked Calpurnia, she did not want to answer. The author of the novel is in solidarity with his hero: the world of the child is pure, and should not be spoiled with untruth. And the child can protect himself from the dirt of life.

It should be mentioned in a “To Kill a Mockingbird: Coming of age” essay that children grow up understanding the problems that arise before them. One of such problems brought to their life by a father's sister - aunt Alexandra. This is a problem of nobility. All her educational speeches remain unheard or rejected. Atticus turns out to be right when he uses not words but facts. The Child thinks that noble people are those whose talents are most useful for society. But aunt claims that the longer the family lives in one place, the nobler it is. Once, Jem said that, according to such a logic, Ewells are noble. Of course, this is absurd.

Lee shows how the children's view of the world changes. Even their attitude to father has certain dynamics. At first, they consider him old, almost ashamed that he does not play football and does not climb onto the roof like the parents of other children. But after the case with the rabid dog, they learn that their father once was the best shooter of the state.

They can’t appreciate his wise and noble decision to never take a lethal weapon in his hands, as sooner or later it can bring misfortune. They do not understand that there is true courage in his calm behavior during a fire. But all the events related to Tom Robinson's case unfold before their eyes, and they see what the father's words actually mean: “Courage is when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.”

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Writing about a symbolism in a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay, it’s worth stressing that the very title of the book expresses the main author's thought. Mockingbird is a funny and harmless creature. It does not spoil crops. Its murder is considered a sin in Alabama. When the uncle gives Jean Louise and Jem guns, the father, not too pleased with such a gift, warns once again about this hunting commandment. There is also a symbolic meaning in this advice: not to kill a mockingbird means not to commit senselessly cruel acts.

However, a moral code that is developed in the Finch family (inconspicuous and continuous, that manifests itself in everyday life experience and in moments of crisis), of course, is much richer. It is based on the one principle: truth. In their house, all questions are answered with varying degree of detail but always truthfully.

Respect for children, which does not exclude discipline and exactingness, permeates Atticus' relations with son and daughter, which are somewhat bizarre from the philistine point of view, but essentially, very close and tender. Focusing on pedagogical morality, “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay may present such family ties as an example of ideal intergenerational communication.

Perhaps, kids know more than they should at their age. But this does not prevent them from preserving the purity and childishness of life perception. Scout and Jem run to the local school where barefoot, sometimes hungry children of the unemployed parents and farmers play, fight in the schoolyard, sit in the one class with them.

The first school impressions of Jean Louise are sometimes anxious and distressing, sometimes amusing. Very funny part of the book describes how a young, helpless teacher communicates with skeptical first-graders who are wiser than she in a practical sense.

But the father understands well the sharpness of the gap between the worlds of home and school, gives his daughter the first lessons on how to “live with people”: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Mention this quote describing a tolerance in a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay.

Sensitiveness, intelligence, crafty and kind humor of the father, not softening the insoluble contradictions of reality, helps the children to orient themselves in it, to solve their own moral problems independently. There is no didactics in Finch's house. The family lives at ease. They quarrel and make peace again. But from the very young age, Jean Louise and Jem strive to have kind feelings, clear head and firm hand like their father. So, it’s worth stressing that they learnt their life lessons in a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay.

The place of the book in the world literature

Experts from around the world say that translating Harper Lee's book is not so simple process as it may seem when you read this prose - clear and easy. It is very difficult to move from a small Jean Louise to an adult woman: the vocabulary and the rhythm of speech change, and yet it is necessary to preserve the individuality of the heroine.

In the modern American literature, there are many interesting phenomena, and what is most interesting, usually they are marked by a very gloomy, sometimes painful outlook on life. But the book of Harper Lee is a rare exception from this rule. So, it’s worth emphasizing the uniqueness of her work in a literary analysis essay on “To Kill a Mockingbird”.

There is an abundance of cheap optimism and sugary humanity on the pages of books of popular American authors. There is a separate "market" for this, as well as for everything else. But here, the painted picture is not presented to the reader. Here, we see life in all its contrasts that are by no means reducible to a happy common good. And the fact that in the heart of this atmosphere we find a kind, brave, thoughtful man whom we want to have as our neighbor and whose children we want to introduce to our kids causes a feeling of gratitude to the author of this book.

The history of the book for a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay

In the last century, Harper Lee published just one book - "To Kill a Mockingbird", but it was enough to enter the history of world literature. For 50 years after this event, Lee remained silent. But in 2015, her fans learned about the release of the second book "Go Set a Watchman", which is simultaneously the prehistory and continuation of the novel about Atticus Finch and his kids.

In 2016, the writer died, and the first work remained the main legacy of her life. To create a good argumentative essay To Kill a Mockingbird, you need to know the history of its writing and important facts from Lee’s biography.

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Basis for writing the novel

Harper was born in a small town Monroeville, Alabama - one of the most racially intolerant US states. Traditionally, the leaders of the Ku Klux Klan organization had a great political influence in Alabama. The girl's family was large. Father worked as a lawyer and, for some time, as an editor of the newspaper. All these facts formed the basis for the plot of the book which later entered the American school curriculum.

Compiling a “To Kill a Mockingbird essay” summary, it’s worth stressing that this is the classics of world literature and the first serious work of Harper Lee. Before that, she wrote novels only in her spare time and worked as a regular clerk. In 1956, Lee's friends made her a great gift - the sum equal to her annual income. They wanted Harper to promise that she would quit her job and finally write a book. So, with the help of real friends, Harper Lee created the work that brought her the Pulitzer Prize, instantly became a bestseller and preserves this status till now.

By the definition of Harper Lee, "To Kill a Mockingbird" is a story of pure and simple love. The novel is largely autobiographical. Harper's father also was a lawyer. Another future writer Truman Capote, who became the prototype of Dill, lived next to her. He is one of the main American writers of the 60's, the author of many novels which have been repeatedly filmed. For example, the plot of the famous comedy "Breakfast at Tiffany's" with Audrey Hepburn was taken from his book.

Writing “To Kill a Mockingbird essay on point of view” about the creativity of Harper Lee, you may mention the following surmise: some critics believe that Dill’s prototype was involved in the dark story of the author's only novel. They suspected that the writing of the book took place not without the help of Truman Capote with whom Lee did not cease to communicate until his death. The writer himself denied this point of view many times, thereby discouraging the desire of the press to communicate on this topic. However, periodically, this issue was raised again during decades of waiting for Lee's new novel.

The story of the trial of Tim Robinson also has real roots: in 1931, in Alabama, nine black men (later called "Scottsboro Boys") were accused of raping two white women and sentenced to death without providing them with due legal protection. It was impossible to call this process fair. The suspects were almost lynched before the investigation. They met with a lawyer only in the courtroom. In addition, according to a medical examination, women were not raped.

The jury, however, found each of them guilty and sentenced eight people to death. The ninth, the youngest (he was only thirteen), escaped this fate. During the appellate process, which lasted more than six years, most of the charges were dropped and seven prisoners were released. This case, despite the fact that Harper was only five years old at the time of the trial, made an indelible impression on the future writer. Use this fact as a background information about racism in a “To Kill a Mockingbird essay”.

A year after the beginning of the work on the book, a draft entitled "Go Set a Watchman" (quotation from Book of Isaiah, 21:6) was ready. However, the editor suggested changing the title to something less pretentious. As a result, we know this work under the name "To Kill a Mockingbird". The novel was published in 1960, and the following year Harper Lee received the Pulitzer Prize. Multi-million copies of the book were printed around the world.

Screen version

With incredible speed, two years after the novel's appearance, the American drama "To Kill a Mockingbird" (1962) was filmed with Gregory Peck, superstar of that time, in the main role. The screen adaptation received eight nominations for the Oscar and three awards.

It’s worth stressing in a “To Kill a Mockingbird: book vs movie” essay that modern critics consider this work as one of the greatest films in history. The author liked the screen version. After viewing, she expressed the following thought: if the merit of the movie can be measured by the level of conveying of the writer's intention, then the film of 1962 should be studied as a classic example of such adaptation. Harper was a friend for the performer of the main role until his death.

Years of silence

Numerous awards, autographs, interviews - Harper Lee was not ready for success. She hoped that critics would destroy her quickly and painlessly. But, at the same time, she wanted to find readers who would like the book. With such support she could continue to write. As a result, Lee received more than she hoped. But this outcome frightened her much more than "merciful death" at the hands of critics which she expected. All this led to the fact that Harper remained the author of the one novel. She stopped giving interviews and appearing at social events.

In 2006, Lee broke the silence for the first time in 40 years by publishing an article in the journal of the TV presenter Oprah Winfrey, in which she described childhood memories related to reading. Harper wrote that in a society of abundance where people had laptops, mobile phones, iPods, their minds were similar to empty rooms, she continued to live in the surrounding of books.

You may mention in a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay introduction that, in 2007, George Bush handed the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Lee. Everyone was waiting for her to tell something important about an unwritten or written book, about herself, about America. However, the writer refused any speeches in advance.

The last publication

It is possible that all these years she continued to write - just did not want to publish her works. To date, we can read only one more serious book mentioned above - the novel "Go Set the Watchman", which is the original version of the publication of 1960.

Inform the readers of your “To Kill a Mockingbird essay: Scout growing up” that this story tells about the same heroine Jean Louise Finch, just adult. According to the plot, she returns from New York to hometown Maycomb to visit her father Atticus. The woman has to face personal and political problems. At the same time, she tries to understand the father and her own feelings.

The book was written before "To Kill a Mockingbird", but the editor liked the scenes with memories of Jean's childhood so much that he advised Harper Lee to focus on this period of the heroine's life and to completely change the plot. Since the author was an inexperienced writer, she used this recommendation.

The fact that Harper Lee spoke little about "Go Set the Watchman" attracts the attention of connoisseurs of literature. Her interests were mostly represented by a lawyer Tonja Carter. The public felt a certain dirty trick. It is quite suspicious that the talented lawyer of a deaf and almost blind old woman limited meetings and any communication with her client.

There were guesses that Tonja was just making up the answers to a number of significant questions about the publication of the novel. So, answering about what the book was doing in the "banking cell" all these years, Carter stated that Harper Lee simply forgot about it.

You can’t push this version forward in a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay conclusion, because, in fact, the abuse of a lawyer was not confirmed. However, there are many stories when, after the death of the writer, most of what she did not want to see in the press was published. The plundering of graves is a cynical affair, but it is much more cynical to search ​​what else to sell when the writer is still alive.

Historical facts for a “To Kill a Mockingbird” racism essay

Evaluating credible sources for a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay, it is better to use not only the book itself but also historical facts, as the novel about the trial of Tom Robinson is written in reference to the real oppressive situation which prevailed in the United States. You can also look through other racism essay topics on the internet. Such an analysis will help you better understand the idea of the book and why the author decided to consider the issue of racial discrimination.

Before the First World War, the black population of the United States consisted of about 10 million people. 89% of them lived in the South, but already at that time, more and more Afro-Americans moved to the North in search of a better life.

One of the most important “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay questions: what should be understood as oppression of black people? It may seem that the answer is elementary. But everything was more complicated for the Americans. The popular proverb claimed: "One drop of Negro blood makes you a Negro".

The legislative practice of the United States of the early 20th century completely shared this view. In Florida, Maryland, Missouri, everyone who had 1/8 of the Negro blood was considered as a black man, in Columbia - 1/16, in Louisiana - 1/32. In Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Arkansas - 1/64 of the Negro blood was enough to consider a person a Negro.

But even this was not enough! In the 1920s, South Carolina legislators voted for the bill according to which each person in whom there is at least a drop of Negro blood was considered a Negro. Writing a “Racism in the novel To Kill a Mockingbird” essay, you can emphasize that the legislation of that time was distinguished by unprecedented cruelty. For the comparison, according to the famous Nuremberg Laws (German), a person with 1/4 of Jewish blood was considered a Jew.

True, the adoption of this law was hampered in the upper house because, according to one of the senators, after its introduction on the same day, the whole state will be covered with blood, and moreover, there will be no purely white family.

Not surprisingly, there was a large mass of white and blue-eyed “blacks” whose lives were regulated by racial laws in the US of that time. Some of them, in spite of the prohibitions, pretended to be white. You can use the following data in a “To Kill a Mockingbird” analytical essay: sociologists state that in the 1950's 21% of white Americans, in fact, were of Negro origin.

The life of these ten million people was regulated by a system of racist customs called the Jim Crow laws. Even in 1940, only 5% of the Negroes of the American South had the right to vote. In the South of the United States, racial segregation was universally observed. In the 31 states interracial marriages were strictly forbidden. This ban existed until 1967! Therefore, the sympathy of Mayella Ewell to Tom Robinson was doomed from the very beginning (besides, he had a wife).

Describing in “To Kill a Mockingbird essay: stereotypes of racist nature”, mention that, in Alabama, it was forbidden for black and white people to play dominos or chess. Any attempt to live under the same roof with a representative of another race prompted an immediate reaction of the police in order to stop a "violation of public order".

An outstanding scientist Charles Richard Drew, who discovered blood plasma, died on the doorstep of a hospital after a car accident in Georgia since doctors refused to help a black colleague.

It's not for nothing that the Nazi ideologist Alfred Rosenberg considered American racial laws as an example for Germany because "there is an impenetrable barrier between white and black".

However, few worried about the problems of black doctors. It was such a rarity. In 1940, only 5% of Negroes graduated from high school. Most blacks in the South were tenants. The landowner supplied them with land, seeds, tools, and livestock for which the tenants had to give most of the crop. The work took place under supervision. Often blacks working on the ground were shackled! They could buy products only in the landowner's shop.

In “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay, discrimination may be proved by the fact that, according to the results of work, tenants not only earned nothing but remained in debt. In 1939, the Georgia Baptist Convention noted that there are more Negroes who became debt slaves than those who suffered from slavery before the inter-state war.

In the case of uselessness, the landowners doomed these slaves to "freedom", or rather to starvation. But it was difficult and dangerous to leave the South. Black could not buy tickets at stations. The Ku Klux Klan often stopped trains and landed Negro passengers. The slave labor of prisoners, whom the authorities rented to large planters, was also actively used.

In the North, the situation was not much better. The racism was the norm of life, an unwritten custom. Blacks could count only on the dirtiest work and life in crowded ghettos, several families in one communal apartment (until the late 60's!). So you can write about the disgusting living conditions of this social class in “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay. Prove that the situation was sad not only on the pages of the book but also in real life.

In 1912, Woodrow Wilson, a candidate for the presidency of the United States, promised black Americans to do his utmost to promote the interests of their race in the United States. But he lied. On the contrary, with Wilson’s rise to power, the position of American Negroes became critical in terms of civil and human rights. Various ways of the final solution of the "Negro issue" were debated in the press and in the scientific world, considering general sterilization to more serious measures.

But the First World War began, and Wilson, the well-known defender of rights and liberties, appealed to the American blacks again and said that after the war they could hope for full civil rights - the same as those used by each American citizen. Again, it was a lie. Answering the question “Was justice served?” in “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay, you may notice that Tom Robinson is the reflection of generations of Negroes who faced the injustice.

200 thousand black soldiers were sent to France. Many of them distinguished themselves in battles. But when the French military decided to reward them, the US authorities realized that it could "spoil the Negroes". Leaflets that stated that the Negroes are not exactly people were published in French. These shocking facts may be mentioned in “Misperception. To Kill a Mockingbird” essay. Contacts between the French and black soldiers were suppressed. In fact, the US exported racism to France, as they had done in the Philippines, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

The American government was afraid that overseas "seditious" ideas could get into the heads of blacks. At the end of the war, President Wilson himself sent American major to France in order to prepare "colored soldiers" for the "American way of life".

Even in the United States, there were dangerous thoughts among the blacks. After the October Revolution, the Negro newspapers wrote that the new Russia has become a country where dozens of racial and national groups have settled their differences and found a common basis for cooperation, a country where colonial oppression is destroyed and racial justice triumphed.

In May-June 1918, some journals ended their publications with the appeal "Long live the Soviets!" American authorities realized that there would not be enough "kind words" here. Civil society was mobilized to protect "American values". The Ku Klux Klan grew from 2 thousand (1917) to 100 thousand people (1919). By the mid-1920s, the number of active members numbered up to 1.5 million people, and the total number of members ranged from 5 to 6 million people.

Many senators, representatives of the Supreme Court, as well as, probably, President Harding came from the ranks of the Ku Klux Klan. At the same time, American Legion, an analog of the fascists in Italy, also terrorized the leftist forces. During problem setting in a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay, it’s worth writing that the number of victims of the Ku Klux Klan can't be determined today. Formally, their number is estimated as dozens of people each year. But murders were committed all the time. People were stolen at night and did not return. Black veterans became the main hunting target for the Ku Klux Klan. In 1919, 14 of them were publicly burned, 11 of which were burned alive. Some blacks were specially executed in a soldier's uniform.

Choosing how to start a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay, you can describe the sad events that inspired writers to talk about racial inequality. The country was covered by a wave of disorders. In July 1919, a number of activists, with the support of the police, broke into the black quarter of Washington. But they met the resistance. The Negroes counterattacked and, for several hours, actually controlled the capital of the United States.

In August of the same year, the disorder in Chicago turned into two-week street fighting. "Everyone's duty here, - said one of the ghetto residents, - is to provide ourselves with a gun and ammunition. I have at least one gun and enough ammunition to make it useful."

In Arkansas, blacks formed an alliance and resisted the plantation owners with weapons. The authorities turned to the troops, and 11 Negroes were electrocuted. As a result, the resistance of the black population was broken. Leftist organizations were destroyed. But it was impossible to fully restore black America to the previous state.

Almost immediately after the events of 1919, the first national black movement created by Marcus Garvey emerged in the United States. It involved from 1 to 3 million people. True, this organization was fascist and racist. In the late 1920s, it "became famous" for the scandalous negotiations with the Ku Klux Klan on the organization of a resettlement of Negroes from America to Africa. Deceptive economic projects, which were so liked by American politicians, had finally destroyed the Garvey's project.

But after the Second World War, the era of "Uncle Tom" was a thing of the past. A "new black man" was born. He possessed a sense of dignity and knew his own worth. In 1968, he raised the revolution and won not equality but freedom.

You can state the following “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay thesis: despite the huge number of imperfections in the modern world, the issue of respect for black Americans had moved far ahead in comparison with the times described by Harper Lee. In part, this is her merit. As a talented writer, she attracted public attention to this problem and changed social morality.

To Pimp a Butterfly

Looking for original and interesting “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay ideas, you can consider not only the book itself but also works of modern artists referring to it. For example, the American hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar, while recording his third studio album, intentionally made a reference to the novel by Harper Lee in the title "To Pimp a Butterfly".

Lamar directly spoke about it to the American magazine "Rolling Stone" in the spring interview in 2015. Also without excessive modesty, the rapper said that this allusion to the famous book will stay in history. He claimed that phrase should become immortal, that his album will be studied in literature lessons at universities and colleges.

Such statement of the rapper is due to the fact that Lamar has repeatedly positioned himself as a poet and representative of a modern African American literature whose love was instilled by a schoolteacher.  Considering the symbol of mockingbird in a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay, you may mention that the image of the butterfly passing through the entire album of Kendrick Lamar occupies the same place and is portrayed as a key detail connecting all the texts in a single narrative.

Lamar puts a deep metaphorical meaning in this image: a human is a butterfly whose beauty is constrained by the cocoon of the social environment and own prejudices. It wants to spread the wings and fly away in search of a real life. "To Pimp a Butterfly" means ruining its true image, imposing on it a layer of false values ​​that envelops the wings of an insect and prevents it from flying, which directly leads to the death of an innocent creature, which is like a mockingbird, does not bother anyone and only pleases with its beauty.

You may use the name of the album as a creative title for “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay. For sure, examiners will be surprised by the fact that you decided to consider the links between contemporary rap culture and the literature of the last century.

The symbolic meaning of the butterfly's image is already shown in the first text "Wesley's Theory". The part of the prologue and the first verse tell of the perversion of a successful black artist in the industry of music and entertainment. You do not need to give verbatim quotes of the song in a “Loss of innocence: To Kill a Mockingbird” essay, because the rapper uses rather sharp expressions. But it will be good to mention that he was inspired by the work of Harper Lee.

There is another reference to her novel: «Every nigger is a star, ay, every nigger is a star». Just as in the work of the American writer where the black man Tom Robinson was the embodiment of the mockingbird, Lamar portrays his dark-skinned heroes in the role of spoiled butterflies and firmly believes that they are these beautiful creatures who are worthy of a free happy flight, that they play the same important role in society role as white people.

It is also curious that the very title of the text "Wesley's Theory" brings us to the American reality of the beginning of the 21st century. It somewhat reminds the situation which is always described in such papers as “To Kill a Mockingbird essay: Tom Robinson in the court”. On April 24, 2008, the famous African American actor Wesley Snipes was sentenced by the federal court in Ocala, Florida, to a three-year prison term due to tax nonpayment.

Although the actor admitted own guilt and, hoping for condescension, asked the prosecutors to transfer three checks for several million dollars to the treasury, in the end, the Snipes received the maximum term for tax nonpayment in the US, despite two years of numerous appeals.

The theme of racial discrimination is traced in the image of a spoiled butterfly throughout the album the texts of which draw portraits of dark-skinned heroes at the very peak of their psychological crisis and social decadence. The development of the musician's thought reaches its culmination in the text "Alright". It is a social protest in the best traditions of an African American poetry:

“Wouldn't you know

We been hurt, been down before

Nigga, when our pride was low

Lookin' at the world like, «Where do we go?»

Nigga, and we hate po-po

Wanna kill us dead in the street fo sho

Nigga, I'm at the preacher's door

My knees gettin' weak, and my gun might blow

But we gon' be alright.”

Lamar uses the phrase "Wouldn't you know" to give a more emotional and expressive tone to subsequent ambiguous reflections about the lost faith and the place of a black man in America. Here, the rap poet once again mentions the tensions between blacks and policemen in the US ("po-po" is a slang name for the police) and alludes to unpunished murders of black-skinned Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York in 2014: "Wanna kill us dead in the street fo sho".

Lamar himself does not call for violence but seeks help from God ("Nigga, I'm at the preacher's door / My knees gettin 'weak, and my gun might blow"). He believes that will get support from Almighty and assures his dark-skinned compatriots of this ("Nigga, we gon' be alright").

You may write in a “To Kill a Mockingbird” character analysis essay that, in this case, the lyrical hero (Lamar himself) has many similarities with Atticus Finch who, even despite the manifestation of aggression toward his family, has always sought to understand each person and to settle conflicts peacefully.

In the end, we can conclude that the theme of racial discrimination in Harper Lee's novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" and Kendrick Lamar's album "To Pimp a Butterfly" has a similar artistic embodiment through the images of a mockingbird and a butterfly, as well as Atticus Finch and the lyrical hero of the text "Alright" presented by Kendrick Lamar himself.

Based on the more complex and ambiguous meaning of the butterfly, we can also trace the evolution of the reflection of the topic of racial discrimination, its actualization, and modern adaptation. Thus, the novel by Harper Lee is significant not only as a separate work of art but also due to the impact on culture in general. Facing history in a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay, it is worth noting that, despite the fact that the world has changed greatly over the last century, the issues that were discussed in this book are still relevant.

Useful tips on how to write “To Kill a Mockingbird” theme essays

If you are going to write “To Kill a Mockingbird” essays on courage, friendship, racial inequality or any other topic, it is extremely important to understand what the work is it. If we talk about an essay as a direction of creativity, most likely, it can be compared with the usual composition. Despite the simple structure, there are certain rules for writing this type of paper. However, they are not complicated at all.

An essay is often presented as an academic paper. However, we constantly meet it in everyday life. For example, the description of goods and services in the online store is also a kind of essay, because the author of the advertising text expresses his opinion.

Quite often essay becomes one of the tasks at schools and universities, at written exams. Sometimes, an essay is used to obtain a certain status (scientific degree). The topics of papers that are prepared in educational institutions, as a rule, are connected with important problems of society, historical events, and literary works, for example, “Why is it a Sin to Kill a Mockingbird?” essay.

In any case, an essay is a work of a small volume written in a free form. It presents the author's own thoughts, his experience and opinion on any subject without claiming to the full truth. The very word "essay" came to us from French and means: experience, attempt, sketch. That is, the name itself reveals the essence of this literary direction.

Types of essays

Compiling “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay claims, you can operate the details of the book (i.e. facts) or focus on your own attitude towards its heroes, central problems. According to the chosen approach, essays can be divided into two main areas:

  • Objective: sets out personal thoughts on a specific issue supported by evidence;
  • Subjective: expresses a personal point of view on a specific problem without reinforcing it with facts and claiming the truth.

For example, reflections on the topic of UFOs can be attributed to the second option (there are few scientifically proven facts on which one can rely), and thinking about the formula of water - to the first.

The same way, writing a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay on goodness, it's very simple to say that Atticus is a kind and courageous person. This character has a bright positive role. But if you describe the person of Mayella, it will depend only on you whether to condemn her or to express pity. Such ambiguous characters are often considered in essays in order to make the author think, analyze, push forward own opinion and not to state the obvious conclusions.

The content of an essay can be divided into several subcategories:

  • philosophical;
  • critical;
  • literary;
  • historical;
  • artistic, etc.

There are several main literary types:

  • miniature;
  • note;
  • review;
  • feature article;
  • letter, etc.

That is, the essence of an essay is very broad. The only thing that remains unchanged: it is based on the author's opinion or observation.

To Kill a Mockingbird essay outline

How to write a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay on enemies, family ties and social problems? It would seem that nothing can be easier than to put own thoughts on any issue on paper. But the author of an essay, as a rule, faces some difficulties in drawing up the structure (plan) of the paper.

Writing an essay should begin from some important aspects:

  • Style of presentation should be supported by own emotions, opinion, and vision of the author.
  • Subject of the material should be clearly marked at the very beginning of the text. Good hooks for a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay will help you to attract the attention of the reader to the issue under consideration. Central thought should be once more emphasized in conclusion. Previously, you should examine how to write a hook for an argumentative essay.
  • Correct arrangement of the "question - answer" pairs in paragraphs, harmonious and smooth transitions between them.

Like any text, the essay has its own "skeleton". The structure should be as follows:

  • Thesis statement of the author's thoughts or questions.
  • Gradual argumentation of all theses.

To argue the statement posed, to solve the central problem, to describe the main subject of the composition, you may use any means: historical facts, observations, To Kill a Mockingbird essay quotes from the book itself or articles of critics, scientific papers, etc.

On the basis of the above, the essay acquires the following plan:

  • introduction;
  • thesis and its arguments;
  • thesis and its arguments;
  • ...as many theses as you need;
  • conclusion.

It should also be remembered that the essay answers the question posed at the very beginning. And it is necessary to adhere to this logic in the process of writing the entire text. Each subsequent clincher for a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay will be auxiliary. This is the final sentence of each paragraph (micro conclusion) which should strengthen your first statement.

For example, if you write an essay about any problem, the main answer should describe how it could be avoided and what conclusions should be drawn. Or, if the essay is about some event, then the answer describes what it led to and whether it should be repeated.

Rules for writing an essay

Since the essay is a small amount of author's material, it does not have strict rules. There are only several recommendations and a common feature: all “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay titles, without fail, should be vivid and reveal the essence of the matter.

Recommendations for essay writing:

  • The good and evil in “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay should be intended for the reader who has an idea about the book. That is, it is not necessary to describe things which are familiar to him, for example, to retell the plot of the novel. You should interest the reader with something new.
  • The structure of the essay: introduction, thesis, argument, conclusion. You may use any number of theses (as well as arguments to them).
  • Your paper may have only one thesis. Such a hook for a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay should be specified in the introduction.

Problems and possible difficulties in essay writing

The problems of the essay genre are a confusion of thoughts and their incorrect presentation. You can write such a paper correctly only when you clearly imagine what will be discussed. Moreover, it is necessary to remember the most frequent mistakes of aspiring authors:

  • Stick to the main theme of the text. Answering the question, talk only about the chosen topic. Telling about certain facts, do not deepen into philosophical reflections. For example, if you focus on events of the book and factors that affect moral growth, To Kill a Mockingbird essay should not contain outside information from the biography of the author.
  • Clarity of phrases and thoughts, exclusion of complex and non-specific proposals.
  • Mandatory proofreading. You write for people and, most likely, for specific people. Read the text several times thinking about whether you will be understood correctly.
  • Do not use scientific terminology in arguments - only own language. Convey the topic as you understand it. Writing about empathy in a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay, it is not necessary to give definitions of this phenomenon from dictionaries and complex literature on psychology.
  • The previous paragraph does not mean that your opinion in the arguments should seem ungrounded.
  • Fill the text with your emotions. During “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay defending, examiners must feel that you really believe in your own words.
  • Difficulties in writing essays can arise only in one case: if you do not know what to write about. Study and understand the topic (question, object) properly.
  • It’s not recommended to choose the header at the beginning of the work. If you want to come up with a clever title for a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay, compile it when the paper is ready.

If you reviewed the entire article, understood what the essay is, remembered its plan and structure, found out what types of essays exist and also took into account the possible problems, then, of course, you may ask: "How to write my own essay?" Only you can answer this question.

The main thing is to start. Usually, inspiration grows like a snowball in the process of writing the paper. Just recently, the topic seemed unfamiliar and complex, but then, the problem occupies the attention of the writer, makes him express new and original thoughts.

Even if the consideration of the works of other authors did not help you start writing, you can always ask for a paper writing help on a “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay from specialists. Whatever path you choose, we hope that you will get the highest score. Good luck!

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