Individuality In To Kill A Mockingbird

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Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird explores the question of whether humans are naturally social or individual. It tells the story of a young girl finding her place in society, deciding whether to conform to her aunt’s standards, her classmates’, or her own. This coming-of-age tale is interrupted by the trial of a black man named Tom Robinson who is accused, on circumstantial evidence, of raping a young white woman named Mayella. Scout is called out because her father is defending Robinson, which most Maycomb citizens don’t appreciate. People’s innate tendency is to drift towards a group setting and fall into place with a community by following their standards. Peer pressure heavily influences Maycomb citizens throughout the novel, often…show more content…
Atticus explains that “A mob’s always made up of people, no matter what. Mr. Cunningham was part of a mob last night, but he was still a man” (210). Though Mr. Cunningham could have hurt Atticus, Atticus forgives him, realizing the immense effect peer pressure can have, even about such morally impactful things. Being part of the group, thus saving themselves from scrutiny or even alienation, is more important to those men than their own beliefs and values. Later in the book, the court case occurs. Atticus does his best to defend Tom Robinson, but the men on the jury decide the verdict for each other before the trial starts. At the end, “Judge Taylor was polling the jury” (282), which concludes that Robinson is “‘Guilty… guilty… guilty… guilty’” (282). Not one person, it seems, admits that Robinson is most likely innocent. His race decides for them, because they understand no other way to think than in a racist manner. Because nearly every white person in Maycomb, jury or otherwise, these men couldn’t or wouldn’t go against the flow and vote according to their true opinion of the plausibility of Tom Robinson’s guilt. Some time later, after talk about Tom Robinson’s court case calms down, Scout talks to Jem…show more content…
This is especially true in Maycomb, where peer pressure determines much of the mindset and actions of every citizen. If this were not true, numerous events in the plot would have turned out differently, for better or for worse: the outcome of Tom Robinson’s trial, for example. Lee claims that this is true in real life as well as in literature, hoping that readers will take note of the extent to which those that surround us affect our decisions and opinions. As many statistics and experts suggest, the idea of peer pressure is equally relevant today, especially when dealing with youth. To Kill a Mockingbird should serve as a reminder of our social nature and the effect it has on
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