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“Silas Marner” and “To Kill a Mockingbird”

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Introduction

"Silas Marner" and "To Kill a Mockingbird" WIDER READING ESSAY In response to the claim that all outsiders in fiction are oppressed victims rather than strong non-conformists I have compared two novels, featuring one or more outsider, 'Silas Marner' by George Eliot and 'To Kill a Mocking Bird' by Harper Lee. The claim has some measure of truth in that, at the beginning of the novel, Silas Marner is very much an oppressed victim in the town of Raveloe, another example that backs up the claim is Boo Radley from 'To Kill a Mocking Bird' he is introduced as a rejected and isolated outsider and by the end he is still not comfortable in the company of the rest of the town. However, the claim is disproved because a very strong individual and is no longer oppressed. More evidence that invalidates the claim is the Finch family; they are obviously outsiders but clearly are not weak and oppressed. Before even getting to know him well, the people of Raveloe reject Silas Marner as being strange and different. This immediate exclusion due to his reputation makes it impossible for Marner to become an active member of the Society. "(The Raveloe woman) would never marry a dead man come to life again". This quote shows that the women of Raveloe could not possibly accept Marner because they have heard of these strange, deathlike trances he is prone to. ...read more.

Middle

"As her life unfolded, his soul, long stupefied into a cold narrow prison, was unfolding too, and trembling gradually into full consciousness." The author is using a metaphor here, she describes Silas' past life as being trapped in his depression and hate for the villagers, he was in a 'cold narrow prison' but now that Eppie has arrived he is able to escape his dark emotion and embrace his new optimistic life of happiness and joy. Silas is no longer weak and unsure of himself but is now very much a strong non-conformist, this goes to refute the original claim that, as an outsider, Silas must be weak and oppressed. The most conclusive piece of evidence that goes to disprove the claim is the Finch family from Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mocking Bird". This includes Jem and Scout, but most importantly, Atticus. He is a lawyer living in Maycomb and is given the job of defending a black man, Tom Robinson, in court. The county expect Atticus to simply go through the motions as it can not possibly be that. Tom Robinson is innocent, because he is black. "The state has not produced one iota of medical evidence to the effect that the Crime Tom Robinson is charged with ever took place". This shows that Atticus has much higher moral standards then the rest of Maycomb, Atticus is not just going to stand by and watch Tom Robinson get convicted of a crime he did not commit simply because he is black, Atticus is going to defend him with all his available strength. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is not the entire Radley family who are seen as freaks but more specifically Boo is targeted for abuse. He is seen as some vile, uncontrolled animal that attacks his parents and eats raw meat for food. There cannot be anyone more oppressed than Boo Radley. "An expression of timid curiosity was on his face, as though he had never seen a boy's face before...every move he made was uncertain." Here Boo has saved Jem and Scout's lives and suddenly everyone is paying attention to him, but still he is not comfortable in the presence of the rest of the town. Boo has been isolated his whole life and has no experience when it comes to people, it is now too late for Boo to learn the skills required and change himself sufficiently to become a member of society. He is and will always be an isolated figure of fun for the rest of Maycomb. The claim that "all outsiders are oppressed victims rather than strong non-conformists" is false because in the majority of cases the outsiders are in fact strong and self-confident. This is backed up by the two characters I have studied: Silas Marner and Atticus Finch. Although Silas Marner starts off weak he does change to become stronger. However the claim does have some measure of truth in that Boo Radley is an oppressed figure of fun for Maycomb throughout the novel "To Kill a Mockingbird". ...read more.

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