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The Importance of the Minor Characters in "To Kill a Mockingbird".

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Introduction

The depression, racial issues, equality, morality and justice, are all complex issues that The United States of America still face in today?s society. ?To Kill A Mockingbird? is a cleverly written Harper Lee novel that focuses on many issues surrounding life in the southern states of America in the 1930?s. Written from a young girl?s perspective, the novel speaks of a justice system with no justice, the ethics and morality of racist and the courage to do what is right in the face of extreme opposition. Harper Lee is a very intelligent writer, who uses minor characters to explore the complex themes generated in the novel. These minor characters, alongside the more prominent personalities, are each important in their own right, allowing the storyline to flow and move through the main themes with ease. Minor characters, such as Mayella Ewell, Mrs Dubose, Heck Tate and Lula, all allow the novel to explore different ideas whilst encompassing the all important and relevant themes. Even though they may be minor characters and dismissed by many, there is importance in what they say and do. Each one of them is in the novel for a reason and Harper Lee uses them to enhance the novel to a higher degree, allowing the reader to understand the themes on an unconscious level. ...read more.

Middle

Regardless of the fact that Tom Robinson is the better educated and polite person with much more integrity, the fact that he is a negro, means that Mayella, although regarded as ?white trash,? is still respected more than a coloured man. This minor and pitiful character helps the audience understand the extent of racism within the southern states of America in the 1930?s. Racism in that era was a complex and undefined issue; to the extent that innocent men were convicted of crimes they did not commit and in many cases were not even regarded as human beings. Atticus put it best, ??when it?s a white man?s word against a black man, the white man always wins.? Tom is the ?mockingbird,? an important symbol of innocence destroyed by evil. In today?s society we could not imagine the ethics and standards of a community in which race was such a big issue, when guilty was determined by colour and white men spoke only truth. Mayella Ewell helps the reader understand the many themes that develop within the text, especially the issues surrounding racism and morality within the community and the individual. ...read more.

Conclusion

Her behaviour towards the children allows the audience to explore the different themes evident within the text. It is unmistakable that each and every character Harper Lee has used within this important and inspiring novel, no matter how minor, is significant, and allows the reader to explore the themes and issues raised on a deeper and more meaningful level. Harper Lee has ingeniously used these characters to subconsciously allow the reader to delve into bigger and more pressing matters within this particular society of the 1930?s. Her clever use of language, characters and plot make the read an enjoyable one whilst covering these important issues from a time when the community?s conscience was far from moral and ethical. This novel allows the audience to understand the true meaning of courage, justice, the individuals fight against an immoral society and most importantly the effect race has had on communities in the past, whether intentionally or otherwise. Harper Lee has used the minor characters in ?To Kill A Mockingbird? to explore the main themes of the novel and unmask our representations of certain people and beliefs that are not always true. She teaches us to search for the reality behind the masks that we, or our environment, place upon them. ...read more.

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