I am taking AP English this upcoming school year and I had to read To Kill A Mockingbird and write a literary analysis on it this summer. This is definitely not AP worthy, but here it is.
In To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee depicts the childhood adventures of Scout and Jem Finch. These adventures include a mysterious neighbor named Boo Radley and a court case in which their father is the defendant’s lawyer. Harper Lee uses the court jury’s unruly sentence to magnify Scout’s own unfair judgmental opinions towards others.
Both the court jury and Scout have a previously formed opinion about the person in question. The jury has a biased opinion about Tom Robinson because he is black and “I ain’t ever seen any jury decide in favor of a colored man over a white man,”(208). Regardless of the facts presented to them, the jury has already sentenced him in their minds before any facts are presented. Scout’s father, Atticus, makes a fairly clear case for Tom Robinson’s innocence. It appears that the verdict should be very obvious to all and yet the jury is not moved because of their prejudice opinion towards black people. Scout does the same thing with Boo Radley. She forms her opinion about him based on what other people have told her about him and not from her own experience or facts. For example, “People said he went out at night when the moon was down, and peeped in windows,” (9). Scout is unrightfully afraid of Boo Radley because of what people have said about him. Instead of getting to know Boo Radley for who he truly is, Scout makes assumptions about his character based on rumors others have spread. Likewise, the jury makes their judgment on Tom Robinson based on the bad name given to the people with his skin color rather than taking the facts and his character into consideration. Scout and the court jury both have biased views on the person of interest.
The jury passes judgment on Tom Robinson and although of a different form, Scout also passes her own judgment on Boo Radley. Robinson is convicted of raping a girl, although it is made pretty clear that he is of complete innocence and she is the one bearing the guilt, “I say guilt, gentleman, because it is guilt that motivated her,” (203). Still, the jury judged Robinson, as all juries must do, but not in his favor, for “a jury never looks at a defendant it has convicted…and not one of them looked at Tom Robinson…‘Guilty…guilty…guilty…guilty,’” (211). Robinson is judged and unrightfully sentenced. Scout also passes unfair judgment on Boo Radley. She concludes from what she’s heard about him, that, “he’ll kill us!” (47). Since she believes this about him it affects the way she talks about and treats the thought of him. For example, she does not go near his house if it can be helped, except for when they try to get him to come out of the house. Scout and the court jury both pass judgment.
It appears that the jury and Scout’s judgments were unjust and wrong. Atticus makes it very clear that Robinson is innocent and that, “this case is as simple as black and white…The state has not produced one iota of medical evidence to the effect that the crime Tom Robinson is charged with ever took place…The defendant is not guilty,” (203). Even though Robinson’s innocence is practically obvious the jury still sentences him. They refuse to see that they are wrong in their judgment of Robinson. Scout’s judgment of Boo Radley is also a false image of who he truly is. As events unfold Scout begins to gain a fuller understanding of who he is. There are several times when Boo Radley is thought to have done a good deed towards her and her brother, Jem. One of those times is when a fire breaks out in the town and Scout and Jem are standing out in the cold. Once inside, they realize Scout has a blanket on and Atticus claims it was put there by “Boo Radley. You were so busy looking at the fire you didn't know it when he put the blanket around you,” (72). Nearing the very end of the book, Boo Radley saves Jem and Scout’s lives. Unlike the jury, Scout realizes she has misjudged Boo Radley. After walking Boo Radley home after he saves them, Scout contemplates on how “you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough,” (279). Scout eventually learns to view people justly. Both the jury and Scout unjustly judged, except Scout saw her injustice and changed her verdict.
Scout’s judgmental opinions towards Boo Radley are magnified by the court jury’s unjust judgment of Tom Robinson. Both the court jury and Scout are biased, they judge, and their judgments are unjust. The way that Harper Lee parallels these two events makes the reader take into consideration his own judgments and realize he should do the same as Scout and flee injudicious judgments.