Powerful characters have the ability to persuade and change their peers and their use of values and attitudes. Harper Lee’s novel ‘To kill a Mockingbird’ is a classic text which foregrounds the prejudice, in the form of social commentary. The novel engages the readers’ view using an episodic structure. The story is narrated through the eyes of a grown up Scout, representing Harper Lee herself. Another similar story ‘A time to kill’ by John Grisham defence of a Negro by white lawyer. In this story, the Negro, Carl Lee Hailey is accused of the alleged shooting of two-white men who raped his ten year old daughter. These two novels illustrate how the rights of Negroes are ignored.
1. Atticus Finch is a lawyer in Maycomb which is a small, narrow-minded town with an unusual disease (95). A prejudice disease. He displays tolerance, understanding of another person’s point of view and being able to stand in another person shoes. He stands up for what is right and takes the case even though he’ll lose and believes in individual conscience, the essence of a person’s conscience (114). A symbol of reason and justice. * He uses powerful words to move the jury to be unprejudiced and fair by speaking of equality and how the stupid man is the equal of an Einstein and an ignorant man is the equal of any college president. Powerful conclusion to speech I am confident that you gentlemen will review without passion the evidence you have heard… do your duty (224) although he failed in Tom’s case because he lived in the real world. A world of prejudice.
2. Wanda Womack, one of the jurors deciding the results of the case, convinces the other jurors with her powerful languages. She appeals to the other jurors with the sense of honesty and ask them to be honest with yourself (504). Throughout her influential speech, she uses persuasive technique by getting them to envisage the situation in reverse, pretend that the little girl had blond hair and blue eyes, that the two rapists were black…. and told them to imagine that the little girl belonged to them – their daughters (513). Because of this courageous white woman, the jury voted that jury finds the defendant not guilty by reason of insanity (508).
3. Atticus beliefs represented by Harper Lee through the character of Atticus. In his speech, he talks about the evil assumption – that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral beings that all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women (223). He does not believe it because it applies to white people as well. Atticus believes that all men are created equal (224) but that it is ugly facts of life (240) that in our courts, when it’s a white man’s world against a black man’s, the white man always wins (240). He believes in his moral responsibility.
4. Wanda asks the other jury to search your heart and take a long look at your soul (503) & (504)
5. Did the characters change their peers’ attitudes? Atticus did not change their peers, even though he used the power of the language and use of values and attitudes. Atticus used every tool available to free men to save Tom Robinson…. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed. However, in the other hand, Wanda changed their peers. She asked the Jurors to put themselves in Carl Lee’s shoes. She used the language to promote empathy.
2 novels explored the issue of racial prejudice and justice through the trials of two black men. Through the persuasive language of 2 characters, they prick the conscience of people who are riddled with prejudice and hypocrisy. Atticus and Wanda struggled for justice while they struggle for justice, they displayed values and belief. Regardless of the outcome, they both powerfully presented their case to defend the two defendants.