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Knowing Your Place in To Kill a Mockingbird Essays

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Unspoken barriers divide people according to class, wealth, intelligence and background. This affected numerous people throughout history who were subsequently appointed inequitable places in society according to factors such as family ancestry, behaviour and more. In To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee argues that negative repercussions will arise when one attempts to step out of their preordained place in a small judgmental society. This is evidently proven through the characters of Mayella Ewell, the children Jem and Scout, and finally, Atticus Finch.
In the town of Maycomb, hereditary relations play a large part in one’s reputation, meaning that the social status of your family instantly becomes your own. The character of Mayella Ewell unfortunately belongs to the filthiest family in the town. This is proven in the text, which states:
Atticus said the Ewells had been the disgrace of Maycomb for three generations… Against the fence, in a line, were six chipped-enamel slop jars holding brilliant red geraniums, cared for as tenderly as if they belonged to Miss Maudie Atkinson, had Miss Maudie deigned to permit a geranium on her premises. People said they were Mayella Ewell’s… it was easy to tell when someone bathed regularly, as opposed to yearly lavations: Mr. Ewell had a scalded look; as if an overnight soaking had deprived him of protective layers of dirt, his skin appeared to be sensitive to the elements. Mayella looked as if she tried to keep clean, and I was reminded of the row of red geraniums in the Ewell yard. (Lee 30-179)
It is evident that Mayella wants to be better than her set familial status when she tries to keep clean and make her living quarters presentable, actions that the rest of her family would never bother...


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...ticus’s naïve mindset in believing everyone to having a fair and equal chance. Treating everyone with respect and courtesy, whether they be rich, poor, black or white, was not how he should have behaved according to the adamant rules of society.
To conclude, it is proven during numerous instances found in Harper Lee’s award-winning novel, To Kill A Mockingbird, that societal pressures and the rigid rules and boundaries that society sets can overwhelm anyone of any class, race or background. It is unjust to assume anyone’s character by their set status but unfortunately, negative after-effects immediately take place as soon as one tries to step out of their preordained place. As Mayella Ewell, Scout and Jem Finch and Atticus Finch were the examples of this bitter truth, there are many other characters affected by the societal impacts on everyday life in the novel.


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