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The theme of Family throughout To Kill a Mockingbird May 3, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in To Kill a Mockingbird, Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird really doesn’t stop telling us about family. In the narrow minded world of Maycomb, famiyl is everything, and, according to Aunt Al, every family has a “streak”. 

Throughout the novel we see that some families never change – for example every generation of Ewells so far have been pitiful excuses for people, living in a dirty environment and uncaring about education or getting a better life. Comparitively, many generation of Cunningham have been hoonest and worked hard to make the most of their land, despite their lack of money.

Other families have changed, mainly the Finch’s. Atticus broke free from the stereotype of his family when he moved to Maycomb, away from Finch Landing, and he got a respectable well paid job as a lawyer, paid for his brother to learn medicine, and then brought his children up with a black servant as their surrogate mother.

Aunt Al is the main character who highlights the stereotypes of the various families, and when she comes to live with Atticus, Scout, Jem and Cal, all of this is brought to the notice of Scout.

“There was indeed a caste system in Maycomb, but to my mind it worked this way: the older citizens, the present generation of people who had lived side by side for years and years, were utterly predictable to one another: they took forgranted attitudes, character shading, even gestures, as having been repeated in each generation and refined in time. Thus the dicta No Crawford Minds His Own Business, Every Third Merriwater Is Morbid, The Truth Is Not in the Delafields, All Bufords Walk Like That, were simply guides to daily living”

  The way that this society is set so strongly in stone means that it isnt moving forward as the rest of the world is; it is set in old superstitions and stereotypes without thinking of moving on to a more open minded way. 

This is a very strong factor when it comes to the Tom Robinson case – he is instantly guilty because he is black and therefore a lower class citizen. It also means that the Ewells are known for all their disgraceful behaviour and unlawful habits, but this isn’t even taken into account because that is just how they are.

This also shows how the society never seems to be able to move forward, and is demonstrated in the children’s initial and irrational fear and curiosity of Boo Radley, which is encouraged by the older generation (such as when Miss Stephenie Crawford tells the tale of Boo’s father’s death to the children).

However, hope still remains where the younger generations are concerned – Scout and Jem rebel against these prejudices as the story continues, and they learn throughout the course of the novel that these prejudices are unfounded, especially where the black community is concerned.

In conclusion, much of the story is based around family, but this is mostly just stereotyping by the judgmental people of Maycomb.




1. cammie - September 22, 2012

That is really good and helpfull with some intresting points !!!!!!!

2. Kirsty - September 22, 2012

I think you had a very detailed analyses on the books theme of family …. : )x

3. meg - February 19, 2013

This is really helpful as everywhere I looked I couldn’t find any revision tools on the theme of family

4. Aakash Patel - January 20, 2014

Can u analyze The Immortal Life of henrietta lacks Please

5. katie - January 11, 2016

need just information on the finch family more of there family life

6. Morgan - February 2, 2016

Not to be picky, but you had a couple words spelled wrong.. 🙂

Morgan - February 2, 2016

other than that it was very well detailed! 😀

7. Avery - November 28, 2016

Hello. I am a student creating an essay about family. My prompt: As a novel developed, the author often uses a character’s growth or lack of growth to explore a main theme. In a well-developed essay, explore how one character’s experience in To Kill a Mockingbird supports a theme from you novel. The character I am using is Mayella and I’m struggling to create a theme. Could you help me?

8. Junia Neufeld - December 21, 2017

Hey I’m a student. Trying to write a literary essay on the topic of family and small town life. What I’ve got so far.

In the book, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, by Harper Lee living in a small community is like living in a giant family, and with every family there are rules, whether they are big or small.

In every family there are rules if someone were to disobey those rules there would be consequences dished out by the parents. In the case of Tom Robinson the Jury is the parents trying to find out if he is guilty of disobeying the laws. Scout and Jem realize that it is unfair case do to the fact that the Jury is more likely to favor the Ewell family due to the fact that they were white and Tom was black. When he was charged as guilty it was very clear that the Jury was playing favorites just like some real life families.

Have you ever noticed the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” to be true? In some cases, such as when Mrs. Dubose is constantly correcting Jem and Scouts posture, clothes and manners……

I was wondering if you would be willing to help me out and give me some advice on how I could prefect what i have already?

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