To Kill a Mockingbird- a novel about empathy (Filippa Lindman)

 

To Kill a Mockingbird is a famous novel written by Harper Lee and she invites the reader to follow the life of a girl living in the white racist society of Maycomb, Alabama during the 1930´s. The novel is about a young girl, Scout Finch, who lives with her widowed lawyer father Atticus and older brother Jem. In the beginning of the book the author allows the reader to follow Scout and Jem mostly during the summers when they act out stories about their strange neighbor Boo Radley, who never sets a foot outside of his house.  Soon the story takes a turn, from the prankish acts of children to a trial about an innocent black man accused of raping a white woman. During this period prejudices against colored people were very common and when Atticus agrees to defend the black man, named Tom Robinson, soon both he and his children have the whole white society of Maycomb against them. Scout tries to understand why Atticus chooses to stand by Tom Robinson when it seems as if everyone else think it is idiocy. The novel gives the reader an insight that even though mankind has always been afraid of the unknown you cannot condemn a person until you consider things from his point of view, see the world through his unique perspective and are able to empathize with his values.

Throughout the novel Harper Lee allows the reader to follow Jem and Scout´s childhood suspicions as they try to figure out who the terrifying Arthur “Boo” Radley is and meanwhile understanding why Atticus chooses to defend Tom Robinson in court. Jem, Scout and their summer-friend Dill spend some of their summers spying on the mysterious “Boo” Radley. They even act out silly games where they pretend to be Mr. Radley. One day Jem and Scout finds presents hidden in a knothole in a tree in Mr. Radleys garden and when the house of their neighbor burns down someone slips a blanket on Scouts shoulders without her noticing. After the fire Atticus chooses to defend Tom Robinson in court and soon the whole townsfolk of Maycomb cannot hide their anger towards Atticus. Tom Robinson is prosecuted for murder and based on the color of his skin everybody believes he is guilty and evil. Despite the prejudices shared by all of the folks in Maycomb Atticus tries to see through it and challenges himself to overcome the fear and to face the unknown.  When Scout asks Atticus why he chooses to defend Tom he tells her he does it to uphold his self-respect. The book gives the reader the insight that both “Boo” Radley and Tom Robinson symbolize good, innocent people that suffers from prejudices and when Atticus chooses to defend Tom because it is the right thing to do he teaches the children that just because everyone else fears overcoming differences and facing the unknown they should not.

When Atticus finds out about Scout and Jem´s foolish games about Mr Radley he urges them to try to see life from other people´s perspective before making judgments.  Jem and Scout cannot understand why a person would want to live a life without ever facing daylight. Atticus tells them, on page 33; 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.” With this being said Atticus tries to make them realize that every human being has a reason why one behave a certain way and that one should not judge another person before one completely understand their perspective on life. Despite several facts that Atticus brings up during the trial that proves Tom´s innocence he is found guilty by the whole jury, just because that is how it has always been. Scout and Jem struggle to consider things from other people´s point of view and somehow gain a new perspective on things but Jem finds it hard to understand how the whole society of Maycomb can be so blinded only by the color of someone´s skin.

It is not until Boo Radley saves the children from being killed and when the innocence of Tom is obvious that the reader fully understands how good people can be damaged by those who does not want to see the truth. “Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” This quote can be found on page 99 when Atticus tells his children what a mockingbird is and it teaches them that a mockingbird does not harm anyone. Furthermore, on page 100, they are being taught; “They do not do one thing but make music for us to enjoy … but sing their hearts out for us.” “That´s why it´s a sin to kill a Mockingbird.” Tom is a very kind and caring black man who would never harm another human being. Despite his caring personality and pure heart Tom is betrayed by the entire townsfolk of Maycomb just because he is a black man. At the end of the story Scout realizes that it was Boo who left her and Jem presents, covered her with a blanket during the fire and saved them from being killed. This makes the reader realize that Boo was a goodhearted man who had been damaged by his abusive father. Tom and Boo are in fact two of the Mockingbirds in the novel, good and innocent people who are destroyed by evil.With this insight Scout can finally imagine who the real Boo Radley is and she has learned that if one tries to see life from other people´s perspective and treats them with sympathy you can finally imagine what life is like for others.

The capacity to empathize and gain a new perspective from another person´s point of view is what separates the good and the evil people. In the beginning of the book Scout was an ignorant child who hadn’t yet seen the evil side of human beings. Throughout the book the reader can see Scout develop her values and change her way of thinking which makes it easier for the readers to understand how different things can be interpret from person to person. In the last episode of the book Scout is telling her father about a character in a book who is pursued for committing a crime but whose innocence is soon revealed. She tells Atticus, on page 309; When they finally saw him, why he hadn’t doneany of those things . . . Atticus, he was real nice. . . .” Atticus then answers; “Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.” From being an ignorant child Scout now has the ability to see the world from different perspectives. The book takes place in a society imprinted with prejudices and hatred of the unknown. By giving the reader an insight in how Atticus, Boo and eventually Scout think compared with the society that they live in the reader can fully understand the importance of empathy. Harper Lee reminds her readers that it is possible to believe the best of humanity if one approaches each human being with sympathy and an open mind. This outstanding novel teaches its readers that if everyone treated each other equally the capacity for evil would be destroyed.


Real Courage- Filippa Lindman

A person with real courage is not a person that participates in fights; it is a person who takes the leap, dares to jump and faces one´s biggest fear despite the minimum chance not to fall. This picture illustrates real courage. One might value a man whom stands up for himself in a fight is a man with real courage. Others might believe that a man who dares to kill a mad dog is a brave man. Real courage does not have to be someone doing something dangerous. The bravest thing a person can do is to take a risk even if the chance to succeed is minimal. It is when one tries to do what one thinks is the scariest and most impossible thing to do. It is when one takes chances, makes mistakes, dares daring even if no one else believes one will succeed. Braveness is when one not only have dreams, it is when one tries to make those dreams come true. This picture is taken from the movie behind the book To Kill a Mockingbird and really symbolizes courage as its true meaning. In the book Atticus, the man who defends the black man in court, tries to explain for his child Scout what real courage is. On page 124 in the book he tells her; “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 even begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.” With this quote the book teaches its readers that Atticus is not brave when he kills the mad dog, he shows real courage when he chooses to defend Tom Robinson despite that the chances to win are almost invisible. He does what he thinks is the right thing to do and see it through until the very end. This picture shows that in order to grow one has to dare facing what one would never imagine succeeding with and that it is better to try and fail than to fail trying.


TKM – Interview with Catharina about the book part 2


TKM- Interview with Catharina about the book part 1


TKM – Interview with Atticus, Jem and Scout


Racism

Racism  

The book “to kill a mockingbird” is based on the racism that existed during the 1930s in the state of Alabama. In today’s society racism is still ongoing. Results and discrimination is for example segregation, prejudices and people judging other people. The question is: How much have exactly changed since then?  Racism and discrimination are still present parts in today’s society and everyday but is accomplished in a different way.

Today, if a black person is accused of committing a crime but the evidences are lacking we can’t sentence him or her. In 1930, sending an innocent black man to jail was a great possibility, with or without evidences.  This shows how the discrimination has improved since 1930. However, the discrimination is still present by the blame that immigrants are the reason to our social and economic issues as well as the criminality in society. According to Gellert Tamas, the author of the book “Lasermannen- A story about Sweden”, there is always broader media coverage when an immigrant is committing a crime than when a native commits the exact same crime. This has caused the view of immigrants as an issue instead of a resource.

Segregation, million-programs and a lack of integration was present and is still the reality. Every modern Capital in Europe has a city-center and suburbs where the majorities are immigrants. In the city-center the amount of immigrant are very low in comparance to the high immigrant-populated suburbs. Rinkeby and Tensta in Stockholm are two examples of such a thing.  In “to kill a mockingbird” this was also the realty since all African-American people lived together and all Native Americans lived together.

To summit it up; much has improved, but there is still a long way to go to accomplish integration.  The mentality of accusing immigrants for our social and economic issues as well as criminality is still present. The living-situation makes this harder since all immigrants live in the same place. The racism talked about in “to kill mockingbird” is one way of discrimination, the blame of immigrants as a problem in today’s society is another.

By: Ebba Stenbeck


Rosa Parks

They say that we have a free will and the right to do or say whatever we
want to. But then why are there so many people that have to stand up and do
something so people realize that it doesn’t work that way. What does it take to
become these people that have this courage? During several years the colored
people have lived among the white people without being treated the same way.
What makes these people different from us? Why do they not deserve the same
life that anyone else do? During the 20th Century there were people
that treated the colored people like they were some kind of disease. People who
stood up against them were people with a strong will but the people that didn’t
do anything about it were guilty because they didn’t do anything to stop what
was going on. Rosa Parks is a woman who became a hero all over the world
because of her action. By simply
refusing to give her seat up and following her own will, Rosa Parks became a
woman who many saw as a hero for the nation.

The society during the 20th Century was cruel, people lived among
each other with fear. The White people feared that the colored people would become
one of them and the colored people feared that they wouldn’t be able to live
the life that they wanted. Why wanting to live with this fear? No one wants to
live with a fear of something. Rosa Parks was a woman who took a stand for the
colored people and showed everyone that she was done living in fear. The fact
that she was a woman made her braver, because women in those days had a hard
time achieving things.  Rosa Parks will
always be known as a true American hero as Senator Ted Kennedy once said.  (BBC News).

Half a Century ago Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat for a white
man on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. But the worst thing was that she wasn’t
sitting in the area “Whites only”, which made her furious when a white man told
her to move. When she didn’t, the bus driver called the police who arrested
her.  This action changed the course of
the American history and she became known as the “mother of the civil rights
movement”. According to the Guardian the colored people responded to this act
with a bus boycott led by Martin Luther King. (Guardian) “I have learned over
the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what
must be done does away with fear.” (brainyquote.com) Rosa Parks said this and I
think it shows her feelings that she had during her actions on the bus.

Everyone knows who Rosa Parks was, as she is a big part of the American
History. She has become a role model for many people or a hero that people look
up to and they wish that they have the same nerve as her. The fact that she was
one of the persons that got America to realize that the things that was going
one was insane, made her a person that people believed in. I look up to her as
a woman with power and I would do anything to have her courage. I think she
change many people’s way of seeing things and with that I don’t mean the way
everyone saw colored people as something else, I think she got many people to realize
that things don’t just happen. If you want something to happen you have to be
the one to take the first step, or else nothing will happen. Follow your own
will don’t listen or care what other people think or say.

We all wish that we are free to say or do whatever we want to. But then
why is it so many people that judge other for their behavior or for what they
say. If we continue like that nobody will have courage enough to express their
feelings anymore. I know I feel that way, when someone laughs at me for
something I have done. I don’t want to do that again, no one wants to be
humiliated. But when I think about Rosa Parks and remember what she did, she
can give me strength to do something. I think that if she can, I can. Rosa
Parks is not only America’s heroine, she is mine too.

Louise Leijonhufvud


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