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John Obeid English: To Kill a Mockingbird Lessons Mrs.

Reid 7 November 2012 Have you ever stopped to think about what shapes our lives? Or how about the situations youve been through that make you who you are today? The way some things change our lives is not only how we act in response, but also how we understand and perceive what is happening. The answer to all these mysterious questions is most likely given to you by an elder. And the answer is something that is so complex and meaningful, yet so simple: a lesson. In the book To Kill a Mockingbird, both Jem and Scout learn great lessons of pride, actions that will affect themselves and others, and the awareness of racism. The first lesson is something that can be applied to everyones life: It is to never take offense of peoples remarks. Atticus, the childrens father in this book, teach them to keep their pride no matter what. When Mrs. Dubose called Atticus a Nigger-Lover, Atticus explains that this is only because Mrs. Dubose is looking for a way to release her anger; she is long-standing and suffered in pain. Atticus warns Scout, his daughter, about the offensive and hurtful things. They would come from the prejudiced people of Maycomb Country because they are defending Tom Robinson, an innocent, African American man who was convicted of rape. Her father says to her: Its never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesnt hurt you. A certain perspective of this lecture requires dwelling on his words and the true meaning of them. That viewpoint is that these intimidators of society most likely have been offended themselves. Yet, they differ from the protagonists by letting these opinions of others torment them. Therefore, once an individual considers you below

them, the fundamental aspect is to disregard those oppressors who only have the intent of bringing you down to their level. Another lesson taught to the kids is how they contemplate their actions and how their actions can affect others. One example is when Atticus discusses Joshua after discussing the trial to them: Get more like Cousin Joshua every day, dont I? Do you think Ill end up costing the family five hundred dollars? Here, he wonders aloud the effects of him defending Tom. He doesnt necessarily mean money when he says cost. Atticus is reflecting upon the reputation he is changing for his whole line of ancestry. He puts his family first and thinks of how they might be affected by what he does. Scout seems to have this moral applied to her life when she is told to be respectful to others no matter what. She wants to talk to you about the family and what it means to Maycomb County through the years, so youll have some idea of who you are, so that you might be moved to behave accordingly. Her motive was to stop her hostility so that she would not ruin the familys reputation. It was a lesson for her to adopt the culture of the well-mannered family she lives with. The final and most important lesson Jem and Scout learn is that there is racism in society and that it can be unjust to those who are taken advantage of. Jem is told that many are prejudiced; they succeed in taking a higher role over another human being because racism is on their side. Atticus says cheating a black man is ten times worse than cheating a white man. This is actually saying that even though specific individuals take advantage of others, it is even crueler to do so to a black man because they are already degraded and victimized. It is bad for a black man to be cheated by a white man because the white man will know that his victim will be unable to oppose. The main point is that it is wrong to take advantage of someone by using racial discrimination to get what we want just because they have a different skin color or by the

way they prefer to live. Throughout the whole book, Jem is also shown that people are treated differently because of who they are. For example, the Cunninghams do not pay like others because they are poverty-stricken. The Ewells do not live in a civilized manner so they are thought as wild animals. Those who are mixed races are rejected by whites and blacks because they are different. The Ewells knew they would succeed because they were white and Tom was black, so of course, he is taken advantage of in court. Tom, even though he was innocent, would have a harder time defending himself for that reason. Now that all these lessons have been learned, Jem and Scout can comprehend the severity of the situations in their lives while knowing what is right and what is wrong. They have learned that there are problems like cheating others and that many different things could potentially affect the ones closest to them. The things that influence their lives and personality will be shown by their actions after they acquired these lessons. Now, Jem and Scout can recognize the meaning of the events happening around them that were not clear in the beginning of the book. That came to be solely because Atticus taught those lessons of pride, effects of their actions, and racism used to take advantage of others.