In the novel “To kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, one of the main ideas depicted is about “the simple hell people give other people. ” In “To kill a Mockingbird”, this idea is cleverly written through a number of characters, their prejudices and how it comes about due to a lack of empathy and understanding between people. This idea is explored by Harper Lee mainly through the characters of Tom Robinson, Mayella Ewell; depicted through the eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, two local children in the area, as well as their father Atticus Finch who is a lawyer, and the killer of the mockingbird Bob Ewell.
It is all in the title, and the title sums it up where mockingbirds who are supposed to be protected, are just sadly shot, often disposed of for being a nuisance without thinking. This is the satire, the pathos, it is the very essence of the book written very cleverly by Harper Lee. It is about what we say or don’t say to each other, to our families and friends in real life situations, where we passionately defend ourselves yet we are guilty, as Atticus the lawyer defended his innocent client Tom Robinson.
To kill a mockingbird’, it tells the story of rural and well–to-do folks all living in the Maycomb community, Deep South in America in the 1930’s. It tells the story of lawyer Atticus Finch, who was the only lawyer in the area and defended his community proudly as a lawyer, ending up defending a black American man falsely framed and accused of raping a white rural farm girl, Mayolla Ewell. It also tell the story of main characters Scout finch aged in the story 7 to 9 years, her brother Jem Finch aged 10 to 12 years, and their riend Dill aged 8 years to 10 years, the theme of the story concentrating on their humorous outside escapades, but with a thin thread of intrigue from the beginning of the story right through, a sinister twist in the tale, of deep sadness as a result of extreme prejudice and actions not thought through for their repercussions.
The story is graphic about the community, through the eyes of these people depicted in the story, where these folks seem almost ’hillbilly’ type largely white folks, with a minority of black folks, the theme being prejudice amongst uninformed rural folks living closely with more educated sophisticated types.
There seems to be a lot of accusations and unfairly passed judgment, and murder of people who are innocent, and an attempt at judgment, and an attempt at maiming people who defend the ones who are innocent. Through the eyes of Scout and Jem Harper lee explores the extremely humorous anecdotes of the adult attitudes of race and class in this Deep South of the Maycomb community of the 1930’s.
In “To kill a Mockingbird”, “the simple hell people give other people” is an idea that is suggested here by Mr. Dolphus Raymond, where Scout takes Dill outside to get fresh air at the court case where he could not stop crying where in the court case the prosecutor is giving Tom Robinson a hard time. Mr. Raymond had drunk so called ‘whisky’ out as brown paper bag, with double straws, and he offers now Scout and Dill a drop to drink. They find out with great surprise, it is but ‘coke cola’. Mr. Raymond relates the simple hell to himself in the context of racism towards him and his family, because he being white had married into a black family, and was very happy, but they had received much opposition.
Throughout the book, the society in Maycomb is shown to be a very racist community, so racist that racism has been integrated into the culture of Maycomb. In this community, the black society is intensely hated, and suppressed by the predominantly white society. As a result, many important cases, such as the one relating to Tom Robinson and Mayella Ewell, are not anymore about just about right versus wrong. Harper lee cleverly portrays this through the book in part 1 and part 2, seen in part 2, where Atticus has to go to the court case to defend Tom Robinson.
The lawyer’s advice to his children, tells of a conscience of a town steeped in prejudices, violence, and hypocrisy. This conscience is pricked in this town by one man Atticus Finch, who stands up for the truth no matter what, who becomes this towns conscience even if it costs him to rightly defend an innocent man, against a crime so falsely created to rob this very man of his life and family. Harper Lee uses bob Ewell to try and steal a man’s life from him.
Bob Ewell did not think of the dire consequences there would be created by the serious allegations he made previously when he found out the truth that his own 19year old daughter had actually made sexual advances on this very same black gentleman, whom she had invited into their house to help her with some chores. Bob was so enraged that he himself beat up his own daughter and with that blamed and framed it on the black Tom Robinson, framing his own violence against his daughter on the innocent man for ‘raping’ his daughter.
And in the courtroom Atticus unearths these very truths, which makes Bob hate Atticus for making a public spectacle of his own foolishness, and foolhardiness when Bob took the stand to testify, as well as his daughter Mayolla, whom both Atticus manages to publically and cleverly expose for the whole Maycomb community to see. Bob Ewell promises to get Atticus, and in this is the satire and the pathos as Bob Ewell at the end of the book by trying to kill Atticus’s children. the context of the line “the simple hell people give other people” is in relation to the way in which Mr. Gilmer treats Tom Robinson in the courtroom during the hearing.
Mr. Gilmer who is the prosecutor addresses Tom Robinson very unkindly, and even though his questioning starts by calling him “Mr. Robinson”, he eventually addresses Tom Robinson as “boy. ” It is inferred that Mr. Gilmer is also unable to accept the fact that Tom Robinson is a good man and he does not believe that black people like Tom could be the source of any good deeds. Thus, he reacts in a surprised manner when Tom states that he felt sorry for Mayella Ewell.
Therefore, this shows that without even knowing Tom Robinson as a person, Mr. Gilmer degrades him, showing another example of “the simple hell people give other people” in the novel. But Atticus goes out to disprove this that Mr. Gilmer is wrong, by exposing Bob who is lying. Tom Robinson is also affected by the prejudice he receives from Maycomb residents. Probably the clearest example of this is presented when the lynching mob made up of Maycomb residents come to the jail to find and hang Tom Robinson, prepared to murder him under the false accusations of him raping a white woman.
The story does not say this, but this attack on Atticus late that evening when his worried children came down late to the jail to help him, could have been set up by Bob Ewell himself, before the trial, so that if they did manage to get past Atticus, to murder Tom, then Bob and Mayella would have been saved going to trial, and the truth coming out about Mayella actually wanting to have sexual relations with Tom Robinson.
This shows, again the “simple hell people give other people” without even knowing or understanding them. Mayella Ewell is another individual who suffers “the simple hell” from others. She is a member of one of the poorest white families in Maycomb which can be considered to be the bottom of the white community of Maycomb. She is also disliked by the black community due to being white, due to her father, Bob Ewell, who is a highly racist man and due to her own unfortunate inherited racist attitudes.
This shows that Mayella Ewell was another individual who suffered “hell” not because people were prejudiced against her or because she was directly disliked by people, but simply because no one did anything with her and because she was ignored in society. It is what we cry about? Cry about the simple hell people give it other-without ever thinking of the consequences! I say it is also what people do and , what they say to each other, that the more they hurt and main each other, without even ‘blinking an eye’, through prejudice, grievances and discrimination.
Courtney from Study Moose
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