Essay on To Kill a Mockingbird: What Makes it A Classic Novel

For a novel to be considered a classic, it must have round characters and a broad message that addresses to all ages. Having flat characters makes it difficult for the audience to relate and leaves less room for characterization development. Additionally, embedding themes throughout the book makes the reading experience deeper and generates understanding on numerous levels. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is somewhat a timeless classic, because it includes meaningful and universally relevant themes, but it excludes round, dynamic characters making the book interesting to a limited extent. 

One of the reasons why To Kill a Mockingbird remains an endless classic enlightens the readers with life lessons. This is brought out by Atticus ,father of Scout teaching his daughter a crucial piece of moral advice that assists her in the future. Early in the book, Miss Caroline, Scout’s teacher and her have an argument and as a result fail to get along. Scout heads home still bothered by what had happened and tells Atticus that she no longer wants to attend school and wants to be homeschooled instead. Slowly, Scout starts explaining to her dad what happens in school with Miss Caroline.

Atticus replies, “you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view-until you climb into his skin and walk around in it”(39). This quote emphasizes the idea that To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic because Atticus explains to Scout a valuable lesson significant for all ages and generations. The critical aspect of this quotation is when Atticus explains you should climb into his skin and walk around in it.

The simple wisdom from Atticus is what will help Scout in the future. Additionally, “climb into his skin”, is not a literal translation of being in Miss Caroline’s shoes, instead It is being capable to place yourself in Miss Caroline’s place and perceive why she acts differently. On the other hand, a significant phrase from this complex quote is, “until you consider things from his point of view.” Atticus is trying to tell Scout she needs to consider various perspectives and to not make sudden conclusions about someone without making a consideration of their point of view. Therefore, this novel has in-depth, relatable themes to all generations. 

On the other hand, To Kill a Mockingbird is not a timeless classic because Atticus Finch does not change over time, exemplified through his morality and his honesty. Scout starts a fight with a peer, and he declares that Scout’s dad is defending Tom Robinson who is a person of color. The case features Tom Robinson accused of raping a white girl named Mayella Ewell. Scout heads home and inquires Atticus with her questions regarding the case. Her father gets annoyed with Scouts behavior towards the case and answers, “simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win”(101).

Atticus Finch’s morality is shown when he is defending Tom Robinson even though he is not white. For example, he uses the phrase, “a hundred years” and “is no reason for us not to try to win.” This is to say, his ancestors started to discriminate people like Tom Robinson, and till this day people follow their path. Atticus wants to change people’s perspectives, and he wants to do what is right. In other words, it is right to punish a person who is guilty of the crime. By all means, Atticus is distinguishing between right and wrong or good and bad behavior by supporting Tom Robinson. All the way at the end of the book, Scout and her brother Jem, visit their school because Scout is participating in the pageant.

Right after the pageant was over, they started walking home and they get attacked by Bob Ewell, Mayella’s father. Scout gets saved by Boo Radley, and Heck Tate who is an officer, notices that Bob Ewell is dead. When Heck told Atticus, Bob Ewell died, Atticus thinks Jem killed him. Heck Tate disagrees and they start arguing. Atticus finally announces, “if this thing’s hushed up it’ll be a simple denial to Jem of the way I’ve tried to raise him. Before Jem looks at anyone else he looks at me… if I connived at something like this, frankly I couldn’t meet his eye, and the day I can’t do that I’ll know I’ve lost him. I don’t want to lose him and Scout”(366). These two quotes show Atticus Finch always being moral and honest. He states, “if I connived at something like this, frankly I couldn’t meet his eye.” This quote expresses to readers Atticus Finch needs to punish Jem even though he does not want to. As a father, he does not want to hurt Jem, but as a role model, his innocence takes in charge. Overall, these quotes prove that Atticus Finch is a flat character because his judgement is ruled by honesty and moralities even in hard times making this novel not a classic. 

Others might say, To Kill a Mockingbird has round dynamic characters, like Scout Finch. This claim is not entirely accurate. Of course it may be true, Scout is a flat character because she gets mature over time. For example, the book begins with Scout being 6 years old and 8 years old towards the end of the novel. Nevertheless, children get mature and acknowledge situations better as they grow older. In addition, Scout gains an advantage because her father always answers her questions truthfully, therefore she recognizes what is going on in her society at a young age. All in all, To Kill a Mockingbird reflects characters lacking complexity and are one-dimensional.

Ultimately, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic to a certain extent because of its themes and shallow characters. This novel should be part of the high school curriculum because it includes helpful themes and it is has unpredictable plot twists. Books should also relate to history, like To Kill a Mockingbird for students to gain knowledge about their past. Lastly, though the book has flat characters, there is still something you can learn from this novel.



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