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Rock Street, San Francisco
Rock Street, San Francisco

Discuss Harper Lee’s presentation of prejudice and injustice in the trial episode. Pay particular attention to the way in which the author uses the characters and structure of the narrative to influence the reader. The end of chapter fifteen (Lynch mob scene) gives us, the reader, a deeper understanding of the Finch’s bond as a family. The reason Harper Lee chooses to construct the narrative in this way is so that it creates a greater impact when an injustice is committed upon someone either within the Finch family or someone in the family who extends their love or support to another person.

In this case the injustice is committed upon Tom Robinson and one of the reasons that we feel such a sense of wrong doing is because Atticus a man who “does no wrong” extends a great deal of love to him. This is frowned upon by most of the town members and when they commit an injustice upon Tom Robinson (i. e. white jury full of every day people) we see how wrong it is and this is reflected in Atticus. The unwillingness of Jem to leave his fathers side when in considerable danger and Scout’s perception of them being physically unalike, ” but they were somehow alike.

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Mutual defiance made them alike. ” This is very important later on when wee see Atticus growing wearisome in court. Harper Lee has made us aware of the mutual affection between Atticus and Jem so therefore when Jem Experiences an emotion it is heightened in the reader. “Scout,” breathed Jem. “Scout, look! Reverend, he’s crippled! ” this is when Atticus without actually saying so, proved that is highly unlikely Tom Robinson, a man with a severely crippled left hand could have committed the assault on Mayella because her injuries suggested someone with two hands committed the assault.

If we were made to realise this on our own without the coincidental realisation from a key character it wouldn’t be as effective. When we realise this piece of evidence and see that the jury don’t bat an eyelid it heightens our awareness that Tom Robinson is sitting in a courtroom filled with a racist white jury all of whom have decided on the verdict of Tom Robinson prior to the proceedings of the court. It is at times like these when Harper Lee is able to conjure up an enormous sense of sheer wrongdoing. We are able to see this injustice reflected in Atticus.

He loosens his attire, “Atticus did something I never saw him do before or since: he unbuttoned his vest, unbuttoned his collar, loosened his tie and took off his coat. ” He grows weary and we see that the injustice, not only in Maycomb but the injustice between all people everywhere begins to eat away at Atticus’s kind good natured being. This is a climatic moment in the book. Not one occupied by action or suspense but one where we see that sometimes not even the most good natured people can stop evil from manifesting.

This is clear that we are experiencing one of Harper Lee’s thoughts not only about injustice in the novel but in real life too. Sometimes you can be as kind and as honest to a person but they can still betray your trust to your downfall. When we hear of this we think back to when Tom Robison was helping Mayella Ewell at her request. He did so with honest intentions, and as a result of being kind and honest ended up in a court and ultimately being killed. This emphasises the theme of “killing a mockingbird”.

We know that tom Robinson didn’t do anything wrong and when we discover his death we realise how sad it is and how much of a sin it was to kill him. We only realise this because of the way that Harper Lee has laid out the narrative. She delivers a piece of information, for example the symbolism of the mad dog to a mockingbird and we later realise its importance through the killing of Tom Robinson. Another way that Harper Lee builds suspense is by exploiting Atticus’ ignorance. When the courtroom begins to assemble Reverend Sykes tries to get Jem to usher Scout home.

Jem tries to persuade Dill to go home with his sister. Scout then tells Jem that he would have to take her because Atticus had said so. Jem wraps matters up by telling Reverend Sykes that Scout couldn’t understand what was happening. From this point the reader is aware that Atticus’ children are in the stands with the coloured folks. Atticus is unaware of this and we as a reader have an advantage over him. We are also curious as to how he would react if his children were presented to him. When the children are introduced later on they provoke an uneasy reaction from Atticus.

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