Appearance And Morality In To Kill A Mockingbird By Harper Lee

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To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a world renowned novel for a reason. It depicts the tale of a young girl’s (Scout Finch) everyday life, as she and her family battle with important issues such as racism and sexism. It challenges the problems within the judicial system, all whilst keeping the readers on their toes throughout the book. The citizens of Maycomb in the novel seem to care more about appearance than the truth which ends up negatively impacting Maycomb’s entire society,as shown in the town’s social hierarchy, Tom Robinson’s trial, and the mystery of Boo Radley. The town’s social hierarchy is skewed, as it is based on appearance rather than reality. This creates a false foundation for the town to stand …show more content…
This can be seen when Scout says things like ““Pass the damn ham, please.” (105) and “Jem, I ain 't ever heard of a nigger snowman." (89). She also learns from her aunt Alexandria that if you’re ranked above someone in their appearance ruled social hierarchy, you should not associate yourself with them, such as when Scout asks if she can invite Walter Cunningham over. Scout is immediately told no by her aunt, and when she asks why Alexandria says “Because-he-is-trash, that’s why you can’t play with him.”(301). Calpurnia is also a strong example of the social hierarchy value of appearance versus reality. When Calpurnia is at the Finch home, she speaks in formal english and is much more stern and proper. However, when Calpurnia is out and about in the Black part of Maycomb, she speaks in slang and is much less stern. Calpurnia modifies her own speech tendencies just to keep herself from being judged or lowered in the false hierarchy that rules Maycomb. This false social hierarchy created by the value of appearance over morals or reality produces problems not only in the citizens of Maycomb’s personal lives but also in their justice system. A false social hierarchy based on the value of appearance over reality repeatedly …show more content…
Tom Robinson will have to spend his life in jail, because of the fact the jury values appearance over true justice or reality. Not only does Tom have to suffer throughout his case because of the Maycomb’s value of appearance, his lawyer Atticus Finch does too. Atticus Finch and his family are repeatedly the victims of race and reputation centered harassment, such as the incident when Mrs. Dubose yells at the kids, “Your father’s no better than the niggers and trash he works for!” (135) or when Cecil Jacobs spreads around the school “Scout Finch’s daddy defends niggers”(99). The Finches are very high in the social hierarchy, so the fact they are being berated by the rest of Maycomb is shocking. It definitely supports how the society of Maycomb is based on the value of appearance, rather than morals or goodness or reality. The society cannot stand to see Tom Robinson, who is Black, have a shot at winning a case over a White person, because of Atticus’ brilliance as a lawyer. Another example is the fact that after Tom Robinson is wrongly convicted on the rape charge, he is shot 17 times trying to escape. The White guards could not stand to have their reputation to drop by allowing a Black man to escape prison, so they did everything in their power to prevent it from happening, no matter how extensive they needed to go.

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