Life is full of lessons, the movie version of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is not! Harper Lee entwines these life lessons throughout her novel; however, the movie version fails to incorporate these lessons into its plot. Thus, the movie version must be deemed incomplete, as it is most certain that there are many important lessons that Jem and Scout learn throughout the novel. A few key characters who taught these lessons to the children and who will be the subject of this essay are Ms.Dubose and the morals learnt from her successful fight against morphine addiction, the role of Aunt Alexandra in front of Scout as a female role model and lastly Mr.Dolphus Raymond’s preferred associations with black people and his motives behind such actions.
These points all sum up to the movie version of the novel being unquestionably incomplete as the movie portrays a scenario in which it seems that only Atticus Finch and his children are against the racist and prejudice ideas of that time. Therefore, the purpose of this essay is to enlighten the reader upon the partialness of To Kill a Mockingbird, the movie.
“Don’t you say “hey” to me you ugly girl!”(Tom Mulligan) is just one of the few lines that Ms.Dubose says in the movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird, although Ms.Dubose does appear long enough to scold Scout, her story is left untouched, thus, leaving a gap in the movie. Indeed, Ms.Dubose was actually a very important character in the novel because as Atticus says “…she was a great lady.” (Lee 149). Ms. Dubose was a morphine addict and fought her addiction successfully with the help of Jem and Scout, who went to her house everyday and read books to her, however, the children were unaware of her condition and only thought that she was somewhat sick. Thus, when Ms.Dubose died, Jem was bewildered to find out that she died fighting off a morphine addiction.
He was even more taken aback when Atticus refers to her as a great lady and says, “She was the bravest person I ever knew.” (Lee 149). Atticus tries to make Jem understand that he wanted him to find out what real courage was because Ms.Dubose was indeed a courageous person as she recognized that her morphine addiction was harmful and thus she fought against it successfully. Alas, as mentioned above, Ms.Dubose only appeared for a short span of time in the movie. The director most likely made this decision because Jem went to and from Ms.Dubose’s house for about a month and thus, it was a lengthy sub-plot, but, although it was lengthy, it was still a bad decision because Ms.Dubose teaches the children a very important lesson; courage comes in many forms.
A very important sub-plot and character that was eliminated from the movie was that of Aunt Alexandra. Aunt Alexandra played the part of a feminine role model towards Scout and told that to Scout as soon as she arrived when she said, “We decided that it would be best for you to have some feminine influence.” (Lee 170). At first Aunt Alexandra is a cause of annoyance, to the point where Scout begins to notice a slight irritation creeping into Atticus’s voice, for example, when Aunt Alexandra complains regarding talk about black people in front of Calpurnia at the dinner table. The views of Aunt Alexandra reflect those of a typical white person towards black people back in those times. However, slowly, Aunt Alexandra starts to develop a deeper relationship with Atticus and the children, to the point where she says that she does not agree with everything Atticus does, but is concerned about him.
This develops even further until she runs out to Scout full of concern when the children were attacked and she even blames herself for what happened. This relationship forms on the other side as well. Scout begins to understand what being a lady is about, at one point she say, “After all, if Aunty could be a lady at a time like this, so could I.”(Lee 318). Throughout the book Aunt Alexandra’s views and actions become less ignorant and Scout becomes more understanding about what Aunt Alexandra has to say. It is a pity that the director refrained from including Aunt Alexandra in the movie version. This was most probably done because Aunt Alexandra has something to say on almost everything that happens and therefore there would have been a lot more scenes in the movie if she were included. However, it was indeed a bad choice because the character of Aunt Alexandra would have made the movie much more interesting. Thus, the movie must be deemed incomplete compared to the novel.
Another non-prejudice character who was not included in the movie was Mr.Dolphus Raymond. He teaches Scout and Dill a very important lesson that reverberates throughout the novel; All that is gold does not glitter (J. R. R. Tolkien). Dolphus Raymond is a white man who prefers to spend his time with black people rather than white folks, thus in order to stop people from constantly questioning his behaviour, he creates a pretext for himself as a drunk man. Dolphus Raymond will not be seen without a paper bag in hand which supposedly contains alcohol. Thus, people figured that he was drunk all the time and so that is why he must spend his time with black people.
In reality though, as Dill and Scout find out, it is just Coca-Cola. When Dill and Scout question him on his behaviour he says, “It helps folks if they can latch on to a reason.”(Lee 268), meaning that if people have some sort of reason to believe something, they would leave a man alone. Unfortunately, Dolphus Raymond was not part of the movie and was most likely removed by the director because it would have complicated the court scene as Dill and Scout would have to leave the court, midsession, in order to introduce this sub-plot. However, this decision causes the plot to once again, seem incomplete, as well as removing a key life lesson; looks can be deceiving.
In brief, this essay has covered three important points in order to convey one final message. The fact that the characters and sub-plots of Ms.Dubose, Aunt Alexandra and Mr.Dolphus Raymond were eliminated from the movie version of the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, amounts to the movie being incomplete. The movie portrays a situation in which everyone save Atticus Finch and his children are racist and hold prejudice against black people, on the contrary the novel itself brings to life a town with various different types of characters, all who play different roles and are significant to the novel in different ways. The fact of the matter is that excluding any of the characters from this particular novel leaves the movie to be undeniably incomplete.
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2010. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. By J. R. R. Tolkien. Dir. Peter Jackson. Perf. Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen and Orlando Bloom. 2001. To Kill a Mockingbird. Dir. Robert Mulligan. Perf. Gregory Peck, Jhon Megna and Frank Overton. 1962.