The Cullman Times
By Jared Dahlke
Fairview High School
All Men Are Created Equal
When Harper Lee wrote the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, she created a manuscript containing quite a few lessons in the common necessities of human virtue and “basic” morals. When this author had the privilege of reading this widely influential novel, one lesson of these said morals stood out vibrantly: equality of all men. Most of the characters contained therein experience this lesson firsthand, but how many in our society where “all men are created equal” are completely oblivious, if not ignorant, of this basic human virtue. Though some who experience these atrocities of racism still don’t quite completely accept or understand why it is immoral and wrong, they still are embedded with an appreciation of those who stand for what is right, even if those honorable attempts are unsuccessful. This novel is an example that one can read and be inspired to try to overcome and stand up to the deplorable inconsistency and abomination of racism, for all men are truly created equal whatever the color of their skin.
The first and possibly the most obvious character that experiences racism firsthand and finds it as demoralizing and wrong as is stated in this country’s Declaration of Independence is Miss Jean Louise Finch (Scout). She sees this display of ignorance and self-righteousness multiple times through the course of the story. The two most influential cases of this are those of Arthur Radley (Boo) and Tom Robinson. At the beginning of the story, Scout is as guilty as most of the community surrounding her of judging Boo because of his secluded and isolated existence. Perhaps due to his lifestyle, many of Scout’s peers and even her brother have conjured quite a few horrendous and disturbing stories about why Boo stays locked up in his ominous household, remaining unseen to all. Scout initially believes these stories because those telling her Boo’s “tales” are people she looks up to and trusts. Alas, when Boo saves both Scout and her brother Jem from Bob Ewell’s attack and she finally meets him face-to-face, she realizes that Boo is just as harmless and innocent as a mockingbird. This occurrence is not racism, yet it is still in violation of all men’s equality to each other. Scout is intelligent and compassionate enough to realize that judging someone simply based on an unconfirmed assumption is wrong, and she sees what Boo truly is on the inside, a human being.
The next situation of crude judgment and widespread bias this author will analyze is the unfortunate legal case of Tom Robinson. Both Scout and Jem are beneficiaries of realization that the sad turn out of the case is nothing but cruel, cold racism and judgmental bias. Tom is of the African-American race and is being accused of taking advantage of and beating Bob Ewell’s daughter Mayella. These accusations are false and are nothing but a blatant attempt to cover Mr. Ewell’s beating of Mayella for making sexual advances on Tom, which he resisted. Scout’s father Atticus is assigned to the daunting task of defending Tom, which Atticus knows is a hopeless endeavor. Unfortunately, due to the majority of the jury’s obvious racism against African-Americans, Atticus is right about the inevitable outcome of the trial. However, Atticus’s honorable, and even heroic, attempt to prove Tom’s innocence of the accusations against him seems to turn the heads of some members of the jury, for they take in excess of a few hours to reach a final verdict. Both Scout and Jem are present for the duration of trial and see their father’s respectable and honorable attempts at proving Tom’s innocence despite his skin color and ethnic background. They realize that, due to Atticus’s selflessness in defending Tom, an African-American must be just like any other resident in their society if their father is willing to sacrifice his reputation on such a grand stage to try to diminish, if only just a little, the overpowering racism of the community. Even if he is a fictional character, Atticus is truly an example to us all that racism is wrong and unacceptable.
In the end, both Scout and Jem realize that judging someone because of his skin color or lifestyle is not only wrong, but a sin. Atticus with his warm and accepting nature, along with his immovable sense of equality and will, and their experiences with Arthur Radley and the trial of Tom Robinson are the keys to their acceptance of these values; and this author would like to believe that they kept those values all their days and conveyed them to all others willing to accept them. The novel makes it very plain that ignorant racism and unjust judgment are both immoral and wrong. Harper Lee was truly an innovationist of her time, and it is of great consequence that To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most influential and memorable books written to date. Her attack on racism and judgmental profiling through writing is truly a sight to behold, and no other attempt has been more successful and influential, in this author’s opinion. Every award she received for this masterpiece is most deserved and belonging. This simple story of a young girl’s coming of age and learning lifelong lessons in being a respected individual teaches all who read it a lesson they should remember for the duration of their respective lifetimes: it is a sin to kill a mockingbird.