To Kill a Mockingbird Critical Analysis

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The movie To Kill a Mockingbird, directed by Robert Mulligan and based on the novel by Harper Lee with the same name, highlights several predicaments that we still experience in the contemporary society. Typically, the author uses different conventions within the storyline to express her ideas. The key issues that Lee focuses on in the script are prejudice, moral education, courage and bravery. The current essay, therefore, summarizes the plot of the movie while relating it to race and the criminal justice system in the modern society.

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The movie begins with the home of Jem and Scout, in Alabama. The siblings live with their father, Atticus, who works as a lawyer. In the early episodes of the movie, Mr. Cunningham, who is a local farmer, pays Atticus for legal consultation in lieu of cash and hickory nuts. The lawyer, basically, does not make much since the people from their community are not rich. Meanwhile, Scout, along with Dill, her summer friend, become entranced with the notion of getting a glimpse of unseen and reclusive neighbor, Boo (Mulligan et al., 2015). The latter was locked up by his own father as he was perceived, through rumors, to be insane. However, the story is based on the complicated trial of a black man who was a suspect of raping a white woman.

During three years, Scout is shocked by the perception of a man’s inhumanity towards another person. She failed to comprehend at first why rumors could make a person to be labelled as insane. As such, she comes to understand that one man cannot really comprehend the other without stepping into the shoes of the latter. This comes clear to her with the rescue of her brother by the person who was alleged to be crazy (Boo) and by the innocence of the black man defended by her father in court. Thus, she learns that race and the spread of rumors cannot actually define a person.

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In today’s society, in learning institutions, instructors and teachers often avoid to mention race. Like Scout, most people learn lessons regarding racial prejudice from their families. When Scout comes with questions over human behavior to her father, Atticus does not elaborate on what to do or say. However, he tells her that the only way to understand another person is to consider things from the other person’s point of view. As such, most families today play a critical role in shaping the perception of their members. Apparently, race is a perilous topic in the modern society. It is usually introduced to an individual as defined by the family. Thus, it is the family, in most situations, that presents children to race as they develop.

Criminal justice system today is yet to fully realize the benefits of democratization of societies (Sowell, 2018). As from the movie, as noted by one of the child, “Hitler is the government,” which the child picks from what they were being taught by Miss Gates, elaborating a clear depiction that past discriminations and injustices contravene what modern society perceive to be right. In the contemporary society, people have taken an extra step in determining how they are governed. As recited loudly by Scout, “Equal rights for all, special privileges for none,” the society is realizing the significance of civic responsibility to guarantee equality for all irrespective of race and class (Mulligan et al., 2015). Nonetheless, defending a black person in court over raping a white woman defines how far the criminal justice has evolved in the modern society. Therefore, race and the criminal justice system have come a long way and have evolved to what we currently enjoy in the name of “universal human rights and freedom.”

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  1. Mulligan, R., Pakula, A. J., Foote, H., Bernstein, E., Peck, G., Badham, M., Alford, P., … Universal Studios Home Entertainment (Firm). (2015). To kill a mockingbird. Universal City, CA: Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Universal City, CA: Universal.
  2. Sowell, T. (2018). Discrimination and disparities. New York: Basic Books.
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