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Techniques and Themes in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

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Introduction

Techniques and Themes in Harper Lee?s ?To Kill a Mockingbird?. Harper Lee effectively creates a sense of atmosphere by building up tension with fast paced events that happen suddenly and unexpectedly. She uses relaxed dialogue as a source of background information, and varies the sentence structures and lengths to keep the storyline and the writing itself interesting. To add to the atmosphere, she makes great use of cliff-hangers at the end of various chapters, such as at the end of chapter four ? ?Someone inside the house was laughing.? ? and the end of chapter six ? ?I did not hear him stir again.? This is very effective since it makes the reader want to read on and learn more, creating an atmosphere of mystery and lack of awareness of the events. Rather than telling the reader what is happening, as commonly occurs in novels, she keeps major pieces of information from the reader, enabling the eventual revelations which occur bit-by-bit to be more shocking and surprising to the reader. In addition to this, Harper Lee makes use of gothic imagery, adding highly unusual occurrences to the plot ? such as the snow, the mad dog in February, and the fire ...read more.

Middle

In my opinion, the most important theme in the novel ? and if not the novel, then the first part - is definitely that of the coexistence of good and evil. It is literally embodied by the idea of the Radley family, since Boo lives in a house with first an abusive father and then an abusive brother. The exploration of human nature and its? morals concentrates mostly on whether people are essentially good or essentially evil. Atticus contradicts this in a way by trying to see both the good and the bad in people, but in another way he is the true lesson of the novel. He tries to teach the children how important it is to appreciate the good and bad in people without losing faith in human nature, and to try to see life from their perspective ? to ?try to climb into their skin and walk around in it.? This is closely intertwined with the heavy importance of moral education throughout the novel. The main point that Harper Lee tries to make is that the most important traits to have are those of sympathy, understanding, honesty, and justice. ...read more.

Conclusion

This use of a novel is unusual now and would be even more so at the time of writing, possibly segregating Lee from her community for such a massive strike out against racism and discrimination. Her bravery in this is impressive ? the message is clear that racism is very definitely wrong. The only way the main characters (Scout and Jem) can make peace with the inlaid prejudice in their hometown is by taking Atticus?s view that it is simply something that has been fed into most of the townsfolk, that they have been brainwashed with, rather than an actual opinion that they uphold. However, this isn?t true in many cases ? some characters are simply racist and cruel. Despite this, Aunt Alexandra is an example of how people can change their views based on their surroundings and education upon the subject. When we are first introduced to her, she is greatly prejudiced (she calls Atticus a ?nigger-lover?), but as she spends more time with Atticus and his children, people with a much more humane attitude to people, she comes to share the opinion that all people should be treated equally. This suggests that Lee believes that the way to tackle discrimination is through education rather than through punishment. ...read more.

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