To Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee: A Literary Analysis

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Through simple but plentiful literary elements in “To Kill a Mockingbird” Harper Lee crafts complex commentary on human relationships by means of showing readers the reactions and opinions of divergent characters in the novel when placed in situations and events that challenge their beliefs. Using primarily dialogue and prose, Lee displays the fragileness of community when individual values challenge societal beliefs. First, critical moments like the trial of Tom Robinson are places where Lee emphasizes the reactions of characters through dialogue. For example, the group of old white men sitting in the stands, feeling displeasure as ¨Atticus aims to defend him. That’s what I don’t like about it, ¨ (163). They are not happy in the fact the Atticus…show more content…
While a simple style, Lee uses prose to lucidly show the reactions of characters across the story. Prior to the actual trial of Tom Robinson, characters display their opinions on the matter. They begin to confront Atticus as well as harass his children. At one point a group of men approaches his house and “In Maycomb, grown men stood outside in the front yard for only two reasons. Death and politics,” (145). The writing is brief but comprehensible. This in then followed as “there was murmur among the group of men, made more ominous when Atticus moved back to the bottom front step and the men drew nearer,” (146). No one states that they are threatening Atticus. No one states that they hate the idea of him defending a negro either but the intent there. The crowd pushing Atticus back onto his own porch steps. This ‘show don’t tell’ form of prose allows the readers to understand character’s actions and their reactions to the event, despite the narrator never telling the audience the actual feelings of the characters. This is not to say that Lee never directly shows the reactions of characters to major events. After the trial “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). Bob Ewell stopping Atticus and stating his enmity against him as a direct reaction to the conclusion of the trial is an example of Lee, using prose to get the…show more content…
Again, in the case of Tom Robinson, where the loyalties of people divided between those who wanted a fair trial and those who call black people the n-word. This indirect characterization about the trial happens frequently after the physical trial itself, such as when Miss has to reassure Jem that people did care for Tom Robinson, “His colored friends, for one thing, and people like us. People like Judge Taylor. People like Heck Tate. Stop eating and start thinking Jem. Did it ever strike you that Judge Taylor naming Atticus to defend that boy was no accident? That Judge Taylor might have had his reasons for naming him?” (215). Judge Taylor made Atticus Robinson’s attorney because he knew that Atticus would try to succeed. Heck Tate, tried to appear as neutral as possible in this trial. This scene shows that they tried to do the right thing even though they knew it was unfeasible. Lee indirectly shows the response of other characters even though the characters were not present at the time. This indirect characterization also happens later, as Atticus talks about the jury during the trial. Even though all the adults knew the outcome of the trial “there was one fellow who took considerable wearing down- [...] the Cunninghams?’[...] ‘One minute they’re tryin’ to kill him and the next they’re tryin’ to turn him loose” (222). In this
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