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Tom Robinson, Boo Radley, Scout and Jem Finch: False Perceptions on Peaceful Characters

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Throughout the course of history there have always been men and women who have preyed on the innocent. They do this not because it is easy, nor because it is hard, but rather because they can. Their goal is to cause sadness and pain to make themselves feel better in life. These universal trouble makers are present in every form of society. In the book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, there are many “Mockingbirds”; peaceful characters who are misread. Tom Robinson, falsely accused of a crime, Scout and Jem Finch, attacked out of hate, and Boo Radley, a misunderstood recluse, all demonstrate this concept.

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Tom Robinson was the appointed victim of the book, therefore the most dominant “Mockingbird” in the story. Tom was accused of raping Mayella and throughout his trial, it became obvious that he was innocent and not guilty of what he was accused of. His trial attracted a huge crowd, with black and whites separated in the court house. Even before it started many thought he was guilty because he was black. However Atticus still defended Tom because “…If [Atticus] didn’t, [he] couldn’t hold [his] head up in town, [he] couldn’t tell [Scout] and Jem not to do something again.”(35) Tom Robinson was shot dead for a crime he didn’t do. He didn’t take advantage of Mayella, she took advantage of him. She saved money for a year so she could send her siblings to ice cream so she could follow through with her plan. On Nov 21st she had Tom come in the house so she could do what she wanted. He tried to resist but then Mr. Ewell caught them and Tom ran for his life. It was Mr. Ewell who beat up Mayella and they framed Tom for it. Tom only wanted to help out Mayella but he ended up dead because of it. Tom was a “Mockingbird” figure in many ways. Tom never did any harm to anyone. He was a harmless hardworking man. He was found guilty and died because he was black, when all he wanted to do was help

Due to Mr. Ewell’s desire for revenge on Atticus Finch, Atticus’s kids Scout and Jem Finch, become “Mockingbird” figures as well. Bob Ewell was enraged by what happened during the trial of Tom Robinson. By defending Tom, Atticus exposed the way of life the Ewells live, to the public. Atticus made Bob look like a liar in front of the whole courtroom, triggering Bob to try to get revenge. “…Mr. Bob Ewell stopped Atticus on the post office corner, spat in his face, and told him he’d get him if it took the rest of his life.”(217) The true horror of Bob Ewell, was that he chose to get his revenge by attempting to murder Scout Jem Finch. Even though Scout and Jem hadn’t done anything to him, he still tried to take their lives. Thankfully the only pain he gave them was snapping Jem’s arm. The evil he tried to commit was unthinkable, but in the end he became his own victim and died by “accidently” stabbing himself in the ribs.

Another less obvious “Mockingbird” was Boo Radley, a mysterious character in the novel. He played a very small role in the entire book, yet he was one of the most significant characters. Although, to our knowledge, he never did anything to anyone in the town, “According to Miss Stephanie, Boo was sitting in the living room cutting some items from the Maycomb Tribune to paste in his scrapbooks when his father entered the room. As Mr. Radley passed by, Boo drove the scissors into his parents leg, wiped them on his pants, and resumed of his activities”(11). This was one of the many horror stories that haunted the poor man. In talking to his friend Dill, Jem tells him that “…Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that’s why his hands were bloodstained…”(1.65). He was a normal kind man in real life. He chose to stay inside because he didn’t like the world outside, because of this he was judged and rumors were created about him.

Many people constantly judge and attack others with rumors that are not true. Tom Robinson, falsely accused of a crime, Scout and Jem Finch, attacked because of hate, and Boo Radley, a misunderstood recluse. None of these “Mockingbird” figures ever did anything wrong. They were kind caring people who just wanted to help others. Tom Robinson was just doing good deeds for Mayella, however the events that followed killed him for a crime he didn’t commit, people verbally attacked Atticus for just trying to do his job to help Tom Robinson, causing Jem and Scout to be attacked in the twisted form of Bob Ewell getting revenge on Atticus when they were only just innocent children. Boo Radley chose to live his the way he saw it. However the town ridiculed him because his indoor lifestyle was not seen right by his town. For many different reasons, these “Mockingbirds” were hunted just like those in the wild. No one can figure out why the good sometimes suffer in the end, but Harper Lee vividly exposes her readers to the lives of these “Mockingbird” figures. In a world of racism and ignorance, the message of “killing a mockingbird is a sin” can never be honored, but with Harper Lee’s book to remind us, someday the “mockingbirds” will live and fly free.

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