The theme of Family throughout To Kill a Mockingbird May 3, 2009Posted by KJ theBookGirl in To Kill a Mockingbird, Uncategorized.
Tags: Analysis, Atticus, Aunt Alexandra, bestseller, book, English Literature, Family, GCSE, History, Jem, KJ, lessons, Maycomb, review, Revision, South America, theBookGirl, Themes, TKAMB, To Kill a Mockingbird
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.