To Kill a Mockingbird is a book all about the good and the bad of society focusing a lot on childhood innocence as well as racism in the south. It does this through the lens of Jem, and Scout Finch who are the children of Atticus Finch. As I read the book I looked closely at the character Atticus Finch, and what I found is that he is the most consistent and moral character in the history of everything, that is until the end of the book.
Essentially Atticus Finch is an attorney who has taken up the case of defending a free
African-American by the name of Tom Robinson. He has been accused of Raping Bob Ewell’s Daughter. This case is the main conflict of the story, the rest of it is in my opinion irrelevant and serves little to no purpose so I will ignore it in this post for the most part.
The case has three identifiable parts in the book, the pre-court, court, and the post-Court. In each part something different about society and racism is explored, with each part having something significant happen to every character.
First we will explore the main attraction of the pre-court part, in which Tom Robinson is to be murdered without a court case because of a mob of towns folk. This event is extremely significant for the character of scout who is maybe the dumbest character in all of fiction and somehow doesn’t get the severity of the situation. Instead of treating it as a mob going to lynch someone she sees a familiar face in the crowd who her father, Atticus, has been helping with legal matters. She just starts talking to him about his son that she knows and asks him how those legal matters where coming along. Somehow the universe thought that was enough to disperse a whole mob…..duh….. Jem on the other hand stands by his father because he has decided he wants to be more like a man even though he is just thirteen years old.
But More importantly in that scene you see the first example of difference in the good and bad of society. This is displayed through Jem and Scout as well as Atticus, Jem and Scout stand their ground against the evil mob that represents the fear and hatred of a racist southern society. Atticus characteristically stands firm and tries convincing the mob to leave by talking about morals because he is a lawyer if at this point in the book we did not already know. We can see the good of society shown in Atticus and eventually after little to no convincing from scout we can see a sign of good in the mob as they disperse, they decided against their corrupt actions showing that despite their hatred they have good in them.
The court case is the biggest example of the good and bad in society in the whole book because *SPOILER ALERT* they don’t like black people and they convict Tom. That verdict is thought to be inevitable by most of the town and yet Atticus does his best to change the mind of the jury and at the end of the court session Atticus goes out of character in his closing remarks as described by Jem and Scout.
“Atticus paused, then he did something he didn’t ordinarily do. He unhitched his watch and chain and placed them on the table, saying, “With the court’s permission—” Judge Taylor nodded, and then Atticus did something I never saw him do before or since, in public or in private: he unbuttoned his vest, unbuttoned his collar, loosened his tie, and took off his coat. He never loosened a scrap of his clothing until he undressed at bedtime, and to Jem and me, this was the equivalent of him standing before us stark naked. We exchanged horrified glances.”
– Chapter 20 To Kill a Mockingbird
The shocked children say it all, this is not something Atticus just does meaning that this moment in the book is unique. Atticus seems to be fed up, angry even by the way he addresses the whole courtroom pointing out that this case is about racism and not rape. In the middle of that speech he starts sweating, ounce again something that the children point out to be a first. Atticus seems to be truly furious considering how out of character he acts. He speaks for about 3 pages, here they if you want to read them (pages 207-209); you can feel his tone of voice change from other times he is speaking.
Post court case Atticus once again sees good in society, when explaining to Atticus how juries work and why the verdict ended up the way it did he revealed that the jury argued for more than the usual couple minutes. They even had one member, a Cunningham, a commonly known racist family, fight to acquit Tom. This once again explores more of the good in society idea in the book.
Then at the very end of the book Atticus does something extremely out of character that I actually don’t know how to explain. When Bob Ewell feels he has been humiliated by Atticus in the courtroom he attempts to kill Jem and Scout with a knife. They find Bob
Ewell dead instead meaning one of the kids or Boo Radley a Character that for some reason now shows up out of nowhere killed Bob. Despite Atticus’s protests he gives in to the Sheriff and agrees to cover it up and lie. This marks another change in his character that has occurred.
Atticus Finch is a fairly static character whom is regarded at the beginning as an entirely cool-headed and moral character, in the end he changed showing both the good and the bad in humanity in both the people of Maycomb and one of our main Characters, Atticus Finch.
Personally I did not enjoy the book, I felt it had a lot of irrelevant content, Most of part 1 could have been skipped over and we would still have an interesting storyline considering how much of the book consists of the pre, during, and post-trial.