16 november 2018
The Loss of Innocence in To Kill A Mockingbird
Innocence, or the loss of innocence, is one of the central themes of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird and many other great works of literature, and speaks to society as a whole on the subject of the destruction of innocence. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is no exception. To Kill a Mockingbird is told by the little six-year-old girl Jean Louise Finch nicknamed Scout. She is a rebellious girl who has tomboy tendencies. The storyline is based in Maycomb, a small town in Alabama in the 1930s where Scout lives with her elder brother Jem, and her father, Atticus, who is widowed. The title To Kill a Mockingbird, is a expression of the mocking bird and some people as innocent victims. Only mean and cruel people for example Bob Ewell, a drunk and abusive father would want to kill a mockingbird that sings and keeps people at peace. This symbol of mockingbird appears in the story many times. The symbol of killing a blameless bird is repeated throughout the story. The mockingbirds in the story were Tom Robinson, Calpurnia, and Boo Radley and they all were shown as a mocking bird differently.
Discovering the true nature of Arthur “Boo” Radley also represents a loss of innocence for Scout. Throughout the novel, Scout and Jem thought of Boo Radley as a scary, almost mythical, figure. Because they had never seen him, they let their imaginations run wild with every rumor they heard and thought he was a horrible and dangerous person. When they finally do get to know him, it is when he saves their lives. Scout and Jem find out that it was he who had been leaving them gifts inside the tree the whole time. The person they thought to be evil and dangerous turned out to be someone they could trust completely. This realization that people aren’t always what they first appear to be was a valuable lesson and represented a loss of innocence, but a positive one. After, Boo kills a man to protect his own family Scout comments, after Sheriff Heck Tate tells her father, Atticus, that Bob Ewell fell on his knife, and that there will be no trial for his murder, that “Well, it’d be sort of like shootin a mockingbird, wouldn’t it?” this quote rings true, and shows that Boo is an innocent character, but the death of Bob Ewell at the hands of Boo also shows a loss of innocence in Boo.
Tom Robinson provided something beneficial to society through his work and family, and contributes to the town. But, when Tom tries to protect himself and his family from society’s prejudices by telling the truth in a court of law, and was killed for it. Tom Robinson was a dedicated member of the First Purchase Church, works for Mr. Link Deas in his field all year round, and tries to help Bob Ewell’s daughter, Mayella, on numerous occasions out of the goodness of his heart, shown through his testimony in court where he says “I was glad to do it, Mr. Ewell didn’t seem to help her none, and I knowed she didn’t have no nickels to spare.” This shows he is similar to the mockingbird by giving something away because he is a wholly good person. In contrast to this, Both Tom Robinson and Boo Radley were persecuted by the legal and social systems of Maycomb County. Boo is allowed to go free for his crimes simply because he is white, whereas Tom is convicted of a crime he never committed, raping Mayella, because he is black and is killed as a result of the colour of his skin. Tom, who defends his family’s way of life as well as his own life by telling the truth in court and remaining honest in the face of prejudice and racism, is killed because society cannot believe that his word is correct over a white woman’s. Tom is a much better representation of the mockingbird in the novel, because while putting Boo on trial would be like shooting a mockingbird, Tom was actually shot, just like the metaphorical mockingbird. Boo is forced to kill; Tom is killed. Boo’s murder of Bob Ewell shows a loss of innocence in his character, and highlights the tragedy of Tom being killed, as Tom’s death is the true sin of this novel.
Calpurnia is one of the best representation of innocence because Cal doesn’t get the privilege of being the same person no matter where she is, because she has to live a double life to fit in. Sometimes, conformity to what everyone else is doing makes more sense.Even after all her hardships with white people and black people because of her race she still leaves a completely different life.She take cares of, protects, and teaches white children with love as if they were her own. Calpurnia loss her innocence long ago when she was young as a slave, but even after that she still goes into a white community and will help, defend, ; treat them as her own community or family. She shows this when she says “There’s some folks who don’t eat like us,” she whispered fiercely, “but you ain’t called on to contradict ’em at the table when they don’t. That boy’s yo’ comp’ny and if he wants to eat up the table cloth you let him, you hear?”
“He ain’t company, Cal, he’s just a Cunningham-”
“Hush your mouth! Don’t matter who they are, anybody sets foot in this house’s yo’ comp’ny, and don’t you let me catch you remarkin’ on their ways like you was so high and mighty! Yo’ folks might be better’n the Cunninghams but it don’t count for nothin’ the way you’re disgracin’ ’em—if you can’t act fit to eat at the table you can just set here and eat in the kitchen!” showing how skin, wealth, or situation doesn’t matter you always respect one another.Her innocence is different than the others because instead of going against prejudice(which she still does)or law and being innocence. She has the innocence to teach others why racism is not right.She does this when her and Atticus offer different models to Jem and Scout of how to deal with a world that can’t deal with how people really are. Calpurnia shows the community how the people they are racist and prejudice against are different than they think they are.She shows this by telling scout and jem things that are a hint to the real world and her world. “It’s right hard to say,” she said. “Suppose you and Scout talked colored-folks’ talk at home it’d be out of place, wouldn’t it? Now what if I talked white-folks’ talk at church, and with my neighbors? They’d think I was puttin’ on airs to beat Moses.”
“But Cal, you know better,” I said.
“It’s not necessary to tell all you know. It’s not ladylike—in the second place, folks don’t like to have somebody around knowin’ more than they do. It aggravates ’em. You’re not gonna change any of them by talkin’ right, they’ve got to want to learn themselves, and when they don’t want to learn there’s nothing you can do but keep your mouth shut or talk their language.”