In To Kill a Mockingbird, there are many recurring themes in the book. The book opens up controversial topics and social norms. There are many stereotypical matters that took place in regards to the book. Some stereotypical matters that took place in the book consist of gender roles, racial and class stereotypes, and social stereotypes. Most importantly, gender roles/ stereotypes is the one topic that stood out to me. Many chapters consist of Scout not wanting to be called a girl, or do anything that involves the community seeing her actions as “girly.”. In this essay, I will discuss how gender roles take place in the novel, why it was accepted in the novel, and how it is still an issue today.
In addition to the statement made previously, we can further say that being called a girl when the novel was written, was frowned upon. In the novel, Scout clearly states that she does not want to behave like a girl. ‘I was not so sure, but Jem told me I was being a girl, that girls always imagined things, that’s why other people hated them so, and if I started behaving like one I could just go off and find some to play with.’ Jem has informed Scout that behaving like a girl is typically seen as a negative course of action. In the 1920s, the social norm was women working in the kitchen, and taking care of the kids while men provided for the family. In Scout and Jem’s home, Atticus (their father) was widowed. He had to take care of his two children in addition to providing for them. Scout may believe that since she only has one parent that does both jobs, she might want to do the same as her father. At this time, women were considered weak.
It was not only the characters who were convinced that girls were weak, but it was also generally accepted in the book. In today’s culture, stereotypes are disapproved of. When reading the novel, many ask “Why are the stereotypes accepted in the time the story took place?” In To Kill a Mockingbird, the community around them has social standards, racial standards, and class stereotypes, as well as gender roles. The interpretation the town has on women is not accepted anymore, but it was accepted then because women were not allowed to vote, work in certain fields, etc. Those norms are not apparent in today’s society. World views and political views were different when Scout and Jem were young. “Scout, I´m telling you for the last time, shut your trap or go home – I declare to the Lord you´re gettin´ more like a girl every day!” With that, I had no option but to join them.” Therefore, opinions were not valid, nor were they valued as a girl. In that section of the book, Scout was complaining about Jem and Dill’s plan. When Jem told Scout she was getting to be more like a girl, this suggests that in their time girls complained quite a bit about work and labor, even if not all women did it. Once again, you will notice that the belief in women not working is very apparent in the book.
As a result of women eventually standing up for their rights in the middle of 1920, gender roles have died down. It is still an issue for many men and women. When looking at a man, you should not be able to say that he is or is not the provider. When you look at a woman you should not be able to say that she stays home with the kids while her husband goes to work. In the novel, you see that Jem calls Scout a girl several times in many different chapters, in which Scout gets offended and proceeds to say that she is not a girl. In a way, readers can understand that she wants to be more like her father since she never knew her mother. Although not having a mother does not seem to affect her as much as it affected Jem, you can make an inference on how it has impacted Scout’s behavior. Scout is wanting to be able to show that she is stronger than a girl and does not behave the way a girl would. The gender roles constantly showing up throughout the book shows that stereotypes are still alive and apparent. In this present time, men are getting paid more than women for their hard work and labor, even if they have the same job. Statistics show that women providing the same labor as men only earn 77% of the earnings that men do. Women have faced discrimination in their own workplace, and have faced two times the amount that men have. Therefore, gender discrimination is still very apparent in society today.
In closing, To Kill a Mockingbird literary analysis shines a light on topics that have been, and yet still are happening today. Scout and Jem are not aware of cultural differences and how they had an effect on racism. Since they are still young, there is a lot to learn. Gender norms have impacted both of their lives, as well as their fathers and everyone around them. Overall, many can agree that the children have a lot to learn and can learn from their past mistakes, and see that gender discrimination should not be evident.