How does one look beyond the surface of a human being to find the “mockingbird” living deep inside? In Harper Lee’s classic novel, published in 1960, To Kill A Mockingbird, many characters show dreadful behaviors allowing us to believe a mockingbird is absent from their being. I believe that all human beings are or have at one time in their life been a mockingbird. Unfortunately only the very young or the very accepting can find that goodness. Harper Lee masterfully is able to show many “mockingbirds” throughout her story, possibly even those who are the least likely.
Mrs. Dubose, is to Scout and Jem as far away from a “mockingbird” as can be. Mrs. Dubose is cantankerous, to the point of evil. Mrs. Dubose says mean and hateful things about Atticus, and seems to dislike everything about the Finch family. Each time Scout expresses her dislike of Mrs. Dubose to Atticus, Scout is told to have patience and understanding. It is so hard to care for someone when they clearly do not appear to like you. But, Scout soon learns that not everything is as it appears. Mrs. Dubose is not concerned with being liked and admired, she is fighting a battle most people would not attempt and she wins. At this point Scout and Jem see the true “mockingbird” within.
“A lady? Jem raised his head. His face was scarlet. After all the things she said
about you, a lady?”
“She was. She was. …………..I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of
getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know
you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through
no matter what. ………..She was the bravest person I ever knew.”
Mayella Ewell is the saddest of all the “mockingbirds” in the story because she is trapped in the birdcage and can’t get out. Mayella is trapped by ignorance, poverty, and fear. Because of ignorance and lack of education Mayella is forced to live the same life as past generations. Because of poverty, Mayella is limited on how much she can improve on her way of life. And, because of fear, Mayella’s hands are tied, when asking for help could be her only way out. And, still, the “mockingbird” inside finds a way to express itself. The geraniums are Mayella’s way of having control of an uncontrollable situation. Only a person with a tender heart could create the beauty of a healthy plant for all to enjoy, especially Mayella.
“One corner of the yard, though, bewildered Maycomb. 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……..People said they were
Boo Radley is the most obvious of the mockingbirds. Scarred with stories about Boo’s odd and sometimes violent behaviors, Boo is forced to remain hidden. Somehow through actions, that at first seem mysterious and frightening, Scout and Jem find the warmth in Boo long before they meet him. Random gifts in the tree, Jem’s folded pants, and the blanket draped in love on Scout’s shoulders are all signs of a true “mockingbird”. This “mockingbird” is receiving apparently nothing for his gifts, or is he? Boo is receiving the chance to watch Scout and Jem grow up as Boo observes them from a distance. Boo’s most miraculous song is sung when he saves Scout and Jem’s life. Boo is not only rewarded for his efforts by Atticus’s appreciation, but more importantly Scout’s love and acceptance. Scout sees the “mockingbird” in Boo and walks in his shoes for a while. Scout repays Boo for his kindness by giving Boo her heart and her hand.
The most unlikely “mockingbird” is Robert E. Lee Ewell. Bob Ewell is a victim of alcoholism, ignorance, poverty and more importantly anger. For generations the Ewells have lived a life of laziness, which brought them to the point Bob is today. Bob Ewell sees no way out of a miserable situation so therefore Bob lashes out at the people closest to him, his children. God did not make this life for Bob. Bob chose his way of life and can’t seem to climb out. Does that mean a “mockingbird” does not exist in Bob, or is it because we as a society cannot see what is good about Bob Ewell?
Do you believe in destiny? Do you believe when God closes a door, he opens a window? I do. And because I do I can say that Bob Ewell was a “mockingbird”. His last song was his best song because his death brings life to his children. Possibly the ignorance and poverty stops with his death. And without Bob’s death, Boo would not have been discovered as the most obvious “mockingbird”. Life is complicated, so obviously discerning who is evil and who is good is just as complicated. Don’t judge anyone, including Bob Ewell, until you walk in his shoes!
I believe that all human beings are or have at one time in their life been a “mockingbird”. Looking, finding and accepting that is hard, but worth it in the end.