To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel that is very much still relevant today. Many people believe this book should not be taught but it should because it increases the awareness of history, teaches valuable life lessons, and addresses the topic of equal rights. The bestseller is not only one of the most beloved books; it’s a world full of knowledge on just two hundred and eighty-one pages.
The N word is used in To Kill a Mockingbird, but not in an atrocious manner. Atticus, the lawyer who defends Tom Robinson-who’s accused of raping a white woman, explains to his daughter, “Nigger-lover is just one of those terms that don’t mean anything—like snot-nose. It’s hard to explain—ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody’s favoring Negroes over and above themselves.
” To which Scout asks “You aren’t really a nigger-lover, then, are you?” Atticus then says “I certainly am. I do my best to love everybody… I’m hard put, sometimes—baby, it’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you.” (107-109) People feeling “uncomfortable” about the wording in this book should never be a reason not to talk about a subject that isn’t talked about enough. I believe High School students have experienced their fair share of racism or have witnessed it.
It is something that still happens to this day. Personally, I’ve heard the n-word being tossed around on a day to day basis at school. With this being said, we don’t need to hide these things from students. We can’t erase history, in fact History will repeat itself if people do not acknowledge world problems, so what is there to hide about the past? In chapter 20 the novel shares that Mr. Raymond has a reputation for being drunk. He explains to Dill, Jem, and Scout why he does this, “Secretly, Miss Finch, I’m not much of a drinker, but you see they could never, never understand that I live like I do because that’s the way I want to live.
” (207) Bottom line, a man who has to portray himself as a drunk so he can live with the women he loves is a perfect example of the clear racism in Maycomb. If we ignore history, we might start making the same mistakes we did in the past, people should know how terrible racism really was. This book addresses racism frequently, and I think undergraduates who let the n-word slip out from time to time, will realize how ignorant they are really making themselves look. The unforgettable characters like the wise, warm-hearted father, Atticus make this book memorable.
The majority of the lessons he has taught Scout throughout this paperback, I have kept in my brain. Scout and Jem are two very intelligent children. In the beginning of the book they’re inexperienced, but as the plot carries on, you get to read about how they grow and mature. One of the many lessons taught in this book is not to judge a book by its cover. On page 13 Jem gives a reasonable description of Boo, “Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that’s why his hands were bloodstained—if you ate an animal raw, you could never wash the blood off. There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time.” Towards the end of chapter 28 Boo Radley saves Scout and Jem.
While Heck Tate and Scout were talking she notices Boo, “…and his gray eyes were so colorless I thought he was blind…
as I gazed at him in wonder the tension slowly drained from his face. His lips parted into a timid smile, and our neighbor’s image blurred with my sudden tears.” (270) Scout begins to understand and accept Boo as a friend and not a scary character. Boo Radley is an amazing example of a guy who was inaccurately judged because he was too shy and uncomfortable to step outside his house. This teaches students that judging is no better than racism. No one really knew Boo, they just made up their own idea of him, meanwhile he is actually a very kind man.
However, this book has an old-fashioned writing style and the vocabulary is very sophisticated. Some may say this book was written for adults and not teenagers because of the vocabulary, for example the word “Flivver” was used on page 10 and students may lack the knowledge to notice the references made. Nonetheless there’s nothing wrong with students learning new words but it may also prevent a lot of students from understanding and connecting with the novel. To Kill a Mockingbird has become one of the world’s most famous books for a reason. The novel is a lesson in history.
Reading this book will help students realize how sensitive the topic of segregation really is, It won’t go in one ear and out the other. Reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” in highschool raises the awareness of History, moves the discussion of equal rights, and teaches valuable life lessons.