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A Paper on Respect in to Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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“Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners” – Laurence Sterne. This quote by Laurence Sterne performs as the general idea of respect and equality in To Kill a Mockingbird. Throughout the novel, Harper Lee creates occurrences that demonstrate respect, which will be analyzed in this essay. For example, when Atticus was willing to take the case of Tom Robinson and to defend him due to the fact he is a man with respect and dignity even towards people from different races. No matter how they’re characterized as or how people picture them or their skin color is different. Another occurrence, when Calpurnia lectures Scout how to carry her respect and manners and view it to the people despite how contrastive they are. Finally, when Jean Louise and Jem stop harassing Boo Radley after they have seen what he is truly like as a person. In TKAM, Lee sets the story in the 1930s. Lee arranges Jean Louise as the narrator of the plot from her own perspective but also as Atticus Finch’s daughter. Jean Louise that likes to use the nickname Scout, narrates the inside information about Tom Robinson that has been accused of raping, Mayella Ewell, causing a matter of life or death trial. From carefully examining all of the three events in the paper, In To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee uses the concept of respecting others and the requirement of respect for the other unlike human races, to lead to the first step of equality. Furthermore, Atticus Finch is a great instance of establishing respect as well as equality.

Throughout the novel, Lee uses Atticus as a symbol of respect and equality against the racism that Maycomb County consists of. In chapter 9, Atticus was given a criminal case about a black man, Tom Robinson, raping a white girl. This case gets out of hand, when in chapter 11, Mr. Cunningham and the rest of the lynch mob members go to Tom Robinson’s cell to get their revenge on him, considering that there has been an accusation of him taking advantage of someone that is “superior” comparing that he is not. As soon as the Lynch arrives outside of Tom Robinson’s cell, Atticus rose from his chair to defend him by being faithful and committed that doing what’s right is unavoidable. Atticus is symbolizing that everyone needs to treat each other with fairness. What makes him a symbol of respect and equality because he is a fair person. Only by doing his job, Atticus attempts to change the people of Maycomb’s closed mindset, by making them become respectful and welcoming towards the black people since this is a town of injustice. He has hope to cause a huge impact on his town. He hopes the people of Maycomb will see the good and agree to equal rights must be given, regarding their race. These reasons characterize Atticus as a father with devotion and an influencer.

Just like Atticus, Calpurnia tries to maintain the respect towards the people in the house no matter how much they differ. Throughout the novel, the reader begins to understand that Calpurnia plays a dominant role in enlightening the kids especially Scout, making the reader observe her as more of a mother figure to Jem and Scout. Life for Black Americans in the 1930s was difficult. There were a series of laws that segregated blacks from whites. They’ve been given less and treated them miserably. They couldn’t be on the same level of greatness as whites, always five times worse and have been forced to show respect to the whites, and if they didn’t, there were consequences. Nonetheless, Calpurnia has experiences on how it’s like to not be acknowledgeable by the citizens, or receive disrespect from others which is exactly what Scout does to Walter. Although, Calpurnia wouldn’t allow that type of behavior in the house due to the fact that the Finch’s are different and that’s what makes them special than the rest of the society. Calpurnia shares similarities with Atticus and they both think there is a chance that Maycomb will see the light, by relying on the teachings and beliefs of the Finch’s. At that time all a black person wants is to be earn their respect from others and not be separated by the laws. Atticus provides that respect for them. “‘Hush your mouth! Don’t matter who they are, anybody sets foot in this house’s yo‘ comp’ny, and don’t you let me catch you remarkin’ on their ways like you was so high and mighty! Yo‘ folks might be better’ n the Cunninghams but it don’t count for nothin’ the way you’re disgrace ’em if you can’t act fit to eat at the table you can just sit here and eat in the kitchen!’”. This visit gave Scout an insight into the lives of The Cunninghams, a lower class family and no matter how many differences there are it cannot change your respect towards them because that will create inequality. However, show that they are accepted.

Boo Radley becomes more accepted and respected by Jem and Scout later on in the novel. At the beginning of the novel, Boo was rumored that he was described as the neighborhood intimidating, mysterious man than like any other person, ‘’ he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that’s why his hands were bloodstained – There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; teeth he had were yellow and rotten’’. Just by how people view him, Boo becomes to be a compelling investigation to Jem, Scout, and Dill, they become obsessive and start to lose respect to Boo and begin pestering him. Later on in the story, Jem, Scout, and Dill inspect the Radley’s house and find their way in. But however, stumble into trouble. After they escape from the shadow Jem goes back to get his pants and finds them ready outside for him, and later realize it was Boo who put it there for him when he comes. Finally, Jem and Scout stop bothering Boo after he had done nothing but please them and treat them respectfully so in response, he would earn their friendship. Creating judgments about Boo was easier for people to do than look for actual answers. Boo is segregated from the people in Maycomb and that’s what made him seem so vulnerable and lonely. On account of to his seclusion, it can be said that Boo is weak in descriptions. Due to the fact, no one sees him anymore, so instead, they begin to speculate his appearance and personality.

As seen from the paper, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee tells and teaches the exploration of respect in characters. For instance, Atticus, Jem, Scout, Calpurnia, Boo. However, respect is important because it’s not only the management of being respectful to others but it has benefits to the people being respectful for other different human races to begin equality in Maycomb. Atticus defending Tom Robinson, Calpurnia educates Scout about respect, and Jem and Scout put an end to the investigation of Boo after he has shown many acts of kindness. All of these illustrate the value of respect and their causes. TKAM still has its relevance to this day because racism and prejudice still exist for many people causing the hate to be stronger than the morals, respect, and most certainly equality. 

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