To Kill A Mockingbird is a story about an important part of American history as seen through a young girl’s eyes. There’s so much going on in this novel, but for me, it spoke more than just about a historical era. The themes and lessons in this novel were like soothing words to my anxious self telling me that everything’s okay.
People are people
Atticus Finch is the one character who speaks morality as his second language. Throughout the novel he helps his children, Jem and Scout, understand the world around them. His main goal is to teach them that people should not be judged by their appearance or be judged without knowing their situation.
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
Especially in this day and age, the issue of mental health is real. If we could all read each other’s minds and hearts, we’d probably be more understanding. In all honesty, though, we can’t. We kind of just have to trust that whatever someone else is going through probably isn’t easy. But we’re all human and imperfect and sometimes we’re not as understanding as we’d like to be.
“Are you proud of yourself tonight that you have insulted a total stranger whose circumstances you know nothing about?”
The wise words of Atticus Finch.
He really wanted to get this point across to his children after they destroyed their neighbor’s flowers without knowing about her situation: Don’t judge. Be more considerate.
Courage is not just physical
“Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”
For some people, it’s a little more difficult to step out into the world and just live day by day. It takes a little more effort and a little more courage to allow yourself to be vulnerable to what your body and mind might struggle with. Courage isn’t putting up a defensive wall or hiding from what scares you. Courage is exactly as Atticus says, stepping out of your comfort zone even when you know it will be too much at times. For some people, courage is mental.
People aren’t always what they seem
Jem and Scout see Boo Radley as a misfit in society, a criminal, evil, and what would be described as a childhood nightmare. But as the children later find out, he is actually kind, giving, and caring. Although reserved, he later comes out of his shell to show that he is a good-hearted hero.
“Atticus, he was real nice.”
“Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.”
Harper Lee reassured me that I’m just human. It’s okay to be a bit reserved, maybe even a bit quiet. I wish I had read this novel in school when social anxiety is at its peak. The good thing is, now that I have read it, I realize that we’re all fighting our own battles. And maybe everyone understands each other more than we think.