To Kill A Mockingbird Thematic Essay Research

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To Kill A Mockingbird Thematic Essay, Research Paper In the Deep South, in a little town named Maycomb, tradition for most people meant prejudice, separation, and racism. Atticus Finch chooses to fight against this “old tradition” with traditions of his own. Because of his highly ethical character, Atticus is able to honorably defend Tom Robinson and promote a “new tradition” for himself and his children. Respect, dignity, and equality form the backbone of Atticus’ belief system, a belief system containing qualities that are often overlooked in the traditional South. In the absence of outside support, Atticus fights his battle the only way he knows how — with patience, perseverance, and honesty. The South and tradition are synonymous. Southerners are known to be

proud of their traditional beliefs. To Kill A Mockingbird serves as a piece of literature that allows its readers to question and consider those southern beliefs. Maycomb represents a typical old southern town. Not many people move into Maycomb and not many people who live there journey beyond its boundaries. As a result, the opinions held by many of the citizens of Maycomb are left to grow and foster in the same families for many generations. The circumstances in Maycomb are less than ideal for generating change and more prone to sustaining traditionally accepted codes. Two codes embedded within southern social beliefs are class and race. Class and family history is an important part of tradition to many of the people in Maycomb. When Aunt Alexandra comes to visit, she feels it

her duty to impress upon Scout the importance of her roots. Aunt Alexandra forces Atticus to explain to Scout that she is “not from run-of-the-mill people, the product of several generations’ gentle breeding”(p.133). Aunt Alexandra feels that people are born into a certain class, and should, therefore, behave accordingly. If you are born into a high class, you will always be considered high class, and if you are born into a low class, there is no use to strive for anything higher. The result is that family values are repeated in each generation with similar attitudes and character shadings. The objective is obviously to refine the classes and keep them pure. Aunt Alexandra and many other men and women in Maycomb praise the distinction of class. To them, having high blood is

seen as sacred and there is no way to obtain it but by birth. This view of the pure class in many southerner s minds led to prejudice and separation. When Scout wants to invite Walter Cunningham home to dinner, Aunt Alexandra has strong objections and comments “that they’re good folks. But they’re not our kind of folks”(p.224). She further explains that “you can scrub Walter Cunningham till he shines, you can put him in shoes and a new suit, but he’ll never be like Jem”(p.224). People in Maycomb are concerned about the mixing of classes. Mixing meant impurity and it was simply not done. Mixing of race posed an even larger threat to the preserving of purity. Miscegenation did not have a place in southern society. Mr. Dolphus’ mixed children are pitied because

“colored folks won’t have ‘em because they’re half white; white folks won’t have ‘em ’cause they’re colored, so they’re just in-betweens, don’t belong anywhere” (p.161). Individuals of Maycomb deal with race in different ways, but they do not face up to the real problem. Some people ignore the problem and advocate separation. Others revert to hatred and sometimes even violence. The ladies of Aunt Alexandra’s Missionary Society openly admit that “Down here we just say you live your way and we’ll live ours”(p.234). If there is no attempt of interaction on either part, then the town and its people feel safe and content. Others refer to Tom Robinson as a “nigger” and speak of him in such dehumanizing terms that he is thought of as a beast or a thing,