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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a novel that expands on the topic of a rape trial in Maycomb County, Alabama. This story is set in 1935, and it is told from the memories of a then six year old Jean Louise Finch (Scout). It is based off of the Scottsboro  trial that began in Jackson County, Alabama when Lee was just five years old. “In the trial nine blacks were accused of raping two white girls… All nine were convicted… Retrials continued for six years ” (May 306). The story takes place during a time of extreme racism from the people of Maycomb towards African-Americans. Seeing the events take action from the point of view of a child is a rather unique quality to the story. Her father, Atticus Finch, is the lawyer of the defendant, a black man named Tom Robinson, who was wrongly accused of raping nineteen year old Mayella Ewell. In her novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee uses different character perspectives, symbolism, and point of view to create a theme of knowledge and ignorance. Knowledge and ignorance are displayed through the characters of To Kill a Mockingbird. Ignorance is displayed through the racism of the characters in To Kill a Mockingbird. Cecil Jacobs is a school mate of Scout that does not understand and is naive to believe everything that his parents say about Atticus. He rudely says to Scout “My folks said your daddy was a disgrace an’ that nigger oughta hang from the water tank!” (Lee 102). Even the elderly people such as Mrs. Dubose demonstrates ignorance when she tells Jem “Your father’s no better than the niggers and trash he works for” (Lee 135)! It is extremely naive and mindless for her to call someone trash, even more so because Atticus is so well respected in Maycomb, just because he is giving a black man a chance. Most of the citizens in Maycomb county are extremely racist and ignorant. There are few knowledgeable people in Maycomb County, but none more notable than Atticus Finch. Atticus shows his wisdom by explaining to his children that he believes that all people are equal and that they all deserve a chance to be defended in the court of law. He is not phased when people make fun of him or treat him differently just because he is defending a black man in the court of law. Nicole Smith makes the statement, “Unlike those in the community who are quite racist… Atticus tries to look at everyone as an individual- even those who are outcast by their society” (1). Racism is ignorant and when Atticus looks at a person, he doesn’t even think twice about their skin color. Atticus is a well educated man that looks at people not by their skin color or by their gender, but for what lies on the inside. Lee does not only just show ignorance in racism, but she also shows it through stereotypes of women. Aunt Alexandra is supportive of women stereotypes and she tries to force them onto Scout. She is a, “Conservative woman concerned with social status and class distinctions” (Lee 291). It is witless to believe that because someone does not make as much money as someone else that they may not be equals. Alexandria believes that she is better than other people who did not grow up with the same pleasures that she had. “Aunt Alexandra has a personal quest to make Scout ‘behave like a sunbeam'” (Castleman 25). She is trying to change Scout and her way of life. Scout is a tomboy and she is proud of it; Alexandria wants to try and change her to a feminine girl that falls into a woman stereotype. Ignorance is displayed among the characters of To Kill a Mockingbird and so is knowledge. Obviously, it is shown through more than just characters (Castleman).Lee uses symbolism to display the theme of knowledge and ignorance. It is a sin to kill a mockingbird, and the mockingbird represents some of the people of Maycomb County. “The mockingbirds are silent as Atticus takes to the street to shoot the rabid dog, and Scout describes a similar silence in the courtroom just prior to the jury pronouncing Tom Robinson guilty” (“To Kill a Mockingbird” 294). The silence that Scout hears in the courtroom is spine-chilling. As she remembers that it matches the stillness of the day Atticus shot the rabid dog, she realizes what the jury has agreed on before they say it. She knows beforehand he is ruled guilty because of how the mockingbirds go silent. Near the end of the book Jem breaks his arm in an attack on him and Scout by Bob Ewell. They are eventually saved by Boo Radley who killed Bob Ewell with a kitchen knife. When the sheriff, Heck Tate, finds the body, he says that Bob fell on a kitchen knife. Despite Atticus telling him that Boo killed him, he let it go. “Scout tells her father that revealing Boo Radleys role in Bob Ewell’s death would be like shootin’ a mockingbird” (“To Kill a Mockingbird” 294). How Boo stopped Bob may be wrong but his cause was noble and saved Jem and Scout’s life. So punishing him for something he did right would be like shootin a mockingbird.Jem’s monstrous vision of Boo Radley is another way that Lee uses symbolism. “In Jem’s ‘reasonable’ description of him, Boo is ‘six-and-a-half feet tall,’ dines on raw squirrels and cats, bears a ‘long jagged scar’ on his face, has ‘yellow and rotten’ teeth and ‘popped’ eyes, and drools. He is, in essence, a monster who has lost all of his former humanity” (Felty 298). Jem has never seen Boo Radley. He has only heard stories of him; stories that are actually bizarre and make him seem as a monster. There is irony in Jem’s vision of Boo as he is actually saved by Boo from Bob Ewell at the end of the book. In To Kill a Mockingbird, the bluejays are symbols of racism.  Atticus says “Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit them” (Lee 119). Many may not know that the bluejays in this quote represent the racist people of Maycomb such as Bob Ewell. When Atticus says to shoot them if you can hit them he means if you serve them justice within the law then do it. “It is the opposite of the sin to kill a mockingbird which is why Atticus tells his children that” (Rahilmamdough). He wants them to grow up to be good people so he is teaching them what is right and what is wrong. This quote proves to his kids that racism is wrong.Point of view is used in To Kill a Mockingbird to show the knowledge and the ignorance of a child narrator. The importance and vivid description of seeing the story through a child’s eyes who has grown up is fairly knowledgeable. “Throughout the book events are described by the adult Scout who looks back upon life in the constricted society of a small southern town. Since it is the grown-up Scout’s story, the young Scout finch becomes more a memory than a reality” (May 304). This proves that the reader is seeing this from a child’s’ point of view but it also is shown as a more mature story due to it being told by an adult. While the reader may sometimes forget that the narrator is an adult they never feel the extreme presence of knowledge shown by a child.Even though it is being told by an adult, it was not an adult that lived these experiences. So there are times where the reader is viewing the ignorance of a child and is just blown away by the sense of oblivion by a child. Especially in chapter fifteen where scout is desperately trying to make some type of conversation with Mr. Cunningham in front of the jail. Scout just keeps trying to talk to him even say random things like “Don’t you remember me… You brought us some Hickory nuts one time… I go to school with Walter” (Lee 205). In the entire section Scout embarreses herself, as she just has no idea of the gratitude of the situation, but it can also be perceived as she is a young child and her innocence blocks the idea of it. It is a unique point of view to have the daughter of the defendant’s lawyer tell the story. There is more knowledge and emotion shown in the story than there would be if it had a nameless narrator. “Scout’s narration gives the most vivid, realistic, and delightful experiences of a child’s world ever presented by an American novelist” (Lee). It is the best possible narrator for the book even better if Tom Robinson was the narrator himself. Through the use of characters, symbolism, and point of view, Lee perfectly showed the theme of knowledge and ignorance. As the reader would expect, the story ends with everyone living happily and the main antagonist dead. The characters in To Kill a Mockingbird are unique to their area of residence and perfectly match the racism one would expect from the area. The symbolism that Lee uses is incredible for the depth and meaning of things that some people might not even think of. A wonderful point of view that is clearly supposed to be written as the memory of her living through the Scottsboro case. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a great example of knowledge and ignorance in the 1930’s.

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