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Discuss the family unit in 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and 'Hard Times'.

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Discuss the family unit in 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and 'Hard Times' When looking at Hard Times and To Kill a Mockingbird a central theme, which becomes more obvious throughout the two novels is the education of the respective children and how they are taught to move from childhood to adulthood. Throughout the two novels we encounter various family units with different backgrounds and attitudes to life. The main family in Hard Times is the Gradgrinds and the main family in to Kill a Mockingbird are the Finches. There are many fundamental differences between the two families in the way the children are bought up, the attitudes, morals and views of the fathers and lastly the social class of the two families. These differences can be applied to other families in the novels. However there are also some similarities, which can be identified between the two families. Within this essay I hope to discuss the similarities and differences between the families in the two novels. Perhaps the main difference between the two main families is how and what the children are taught by their fathers. In the Gradgrind house fact and rationalism are focused on and fantasy and childlike thoughts are squashed out of the children. 'Now I want facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing else but facts. ...read more.


Firstly these two families are similar due to the fact that both fathers think that what they are doing is best for their families and both fathers main goal is to educate their children. Mr Gradgrind and Atticus Finch both educate their children at home and seemingly look after the children single-handed as Thomas Gradgrinds wife is an invalid and Atticus's wife is dead. Both men are men of distinction in the town were they live. Although Atticus isn't well off, he is respected for his job, good nature and morals. Mr Gradgrind is a leading political man and very well off. In Hard Times Tom and Louisa have a close relationship similar to Scout and Jem in to Kill a Mockingbird. We see that Louisa and Tom are close through the quote 'I am sick of my life loo. I hate it altogether, and I hate everybody. Except you' Tom and Louisa look to each other for comfort and support. One result of the system that Gradgrind bought up his children by is the fact that Tom hates so easily and has never known love, however it did make Louisa and Tom very close. Jem and Scout are also close but not because they need support from each other but because they have been bought up to respect each other. ...read more.


The trial is at the centre of the novel. Despite this the family is close and a happy one. In conclusion the two novels provide many different family units. From looking at the two novels we see links can be made between the families but also the families are different. It must be taken into account the time these books were written and set as well as where they were set. To Kill a Mockingbird was written by Harper Lee in 1960 but the book is set in the mid 1930's in Maycomb a small fictional isolated town in Alabama. At the time it was set there was much poverty and racial prejudice this effects how the family unit was portrayed. Hard Times was set in the fictional town of Coketown in the 1840's written by Dickens in 1854. At around the time the book was set people's lives were thrown into turmoil during the industrial revolution. Despite the differences in the time and place the books were set there are similarities found in comparison of the different family units. For example the education of the children, poor and honest families and deceitful lying families, and well off disjointed families, all of these types of families are found disregarding the time or place you look. The family unit plays a big part in both these very different novels. ...read more.

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