Freshman Accelerated English
Argument Essay, To Kill a Mockingbird
Directions: Write an essay that explores (and answers) the essential question for this unit: “What’s worth fighting for?” Your essay should include the use of the standard elements of argumentation that are reflected on the rubric.
Word count- 1200-1500
3 pieces of evidence per paragraph, 3 bodies not necessary, 6 six pieces necessary
Your essay is due, via turnitin.com, by the end of the day on Wednesday March 16th.
Throughout history, societies have always ostracized people different from them, and mistreated them, not treating them with due respect as fellow human beings. There are many examples of these in the Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, like Tom Robinson, a black man wrongfully accused of the rape of a white woman, and Boo Radley, a man who was mistrusted and harassed for being a recluse. These two men, among many others, were marginalized simply for being different from the majority of the society despite the fact that they had never done anything against the society. Marginalized groups of people like these are worth fighting for, because despite the fact that they don’t do anything against the wishes of the society and contribute a lot to it, they are pushed aside and mistreated simply for being different, and this prevents them from being able to receive justice.
Marginalized groups of people are often highly contributive to society and kind peope, and are not deserving of the town’s marginalizations. Two prime examples of this were Boo Radley and Tom Robinson. First, Boo Radley was a recluse who stayed in his house all day, and because of this, he was mistrusted. However, Boo Radley was really a kindhearted, timid person who was just very antisocial. For example, when there was snow for the first time in Maycomb, Ms. Maudie’s house catches on fire and the entire community comes out of their house to help her. While Scout was freezing in the cold snow, Boo Radley engaged in a kind action that no one expected would come from him. On page 82, when Jem is explaining what Boo did to Scout, he tells her, “‘Boo Radley did it. You were so busy looking at the fire you didn’t know it when he put the blanket around you…He sneaked out of the house-turn’ round- sneaked up, an’ went like this!’” This was an act of kindness that was uncalled for. Jem mentions that Boo “sneaked out of the house,” it means that Boo saw poor Scout freezing in the cold and snow outside, and walked out into the open where everybody was, just to protect Scout. This shows how caring and protective he is of Scout and other kids, meaning that is a kind soul, especially considering the fact that he went into the open and left his house so that everybody saw him, which no recluse would want to do. In addition, he also probably knew that Scout, like most of Maycomb, mistrusted him and believed the rumors about him. However, he still protected Scout out of the kindness of his heart, which shows that he is a caring and thoughtful person who shouldn’t be mistrusted just for being a recluse. Tom Robinson also contributed a lot to society. He was a man with a family who worked all day to fulfill their needs and help anyone who asked for it, while also working a full time job. When Mr. Gilmer was questioning Tom Robinson as to why he did all that work for Mayella Ewell, the woman falsely accusing him of rape, Lee writes, “‘Then you were mighty polite to do all that chopping and hauling for her, weren’t you, boy?’
This is a preview of the whole essay
‘I was just trying to help her out, suh.’
‘That was mighty generous of you, you had chores at home after your regular work, didn’t you?’
‘Yes suh.’” (Page 223)
This evidence demonstrates how much Tom Robinson contributed to society; he helped people who simply needed it without demanding compensation of any kind, even though he was already busy with work at home with his wife and kids. He contributed so much to society so much that he not only raised a family, but did high amounts of work that Ewells needed to be done, while also working a full time job. Tom Robinson was probably working all day, every day for the community and his family; however, simply because of his skin color, society marginalized him and other black people like him.
Marginalized groups of people are often pushed aside and mistreated simply for being different. This is caused by dehumanization, and thinking of the marginalized group as inferior. One prime example of marginalization caused by dehumanization is Boo Radley. Boo Radley was a recluse, and because he had that simple difference from the rest of Maycomb, he was dehumanized and mistreated. An example of this is when Dill and Scout gave Jem a dare to go and touch Boo Radley’s house. On page 16, Lee writes, “Jem threw open the gate and sped to the side of the house, slapped it with his palm and ran back past us, not waiting to see if his foray was successful.” From this quote, it is clear that the children view Boo Radley and his house like aliens; Scout and Dill gave Jem the dare to go touch the house, so they view Boo and his house with otherworldly curiosity, as if simply touching Boo Radley’s house will cause some sort of crazy event. This is exhibited by how Jem, “ran back past us, not waiting to see if his foray was successful,” showing that Jem was terrified of what would happen if he simply touched an alien’s house. Scout also referred to what Jem did as a “foray,” meaning that they saw Boo Radley as an enemy. They treated Boo Radley as an alien and an enemy simply because he was a recluse, which is clearly dehumanization. Thus, Boo Radley was marginalized and mistreated by the children, displayed by how Jem, “threw open the gate and sped to the side of the house, slapped it with his palm.” Jem, Scout and Dill would have never broken into someone’s gate and slapped their house if it was any other normal white person in Maycomb, showing their lack of respect towards Boo Radley. This offense is especially worse considering the fact that Boo was a recluse who wanted to keep his personal space. The lack of respect shown by this action by the kids shows that they dehumanized Boo Radley, and thus he was mistreated. Another example of marginalization caused by a superiority complex is Tom Radley. Specifically, white people pushed around black people and treated them like trash to fulfill their needs, because they treated black people as an inferior race. Despite the fact that Tom Robinson was so contributive to society, Mayella Ewell, a white woman, decided to ruin his life to cover up her mistake. After Mayella had lured Tom Robinson into her house to do work on the fateful night where she was “raped,” she was the one who advanced on Tom, not the other way around. On Page 221, Lee writes, “‘She reached an’ kissed me’ side of th’ face. She says she never kissed a grown man before an’ she might as well kiss an n-word…Mr. Ewell yonder hollered through the window…He says you goddamn whore, I’ll kill ya.’” As mentioned in the quote, Mayella Ewell said, “she never kissed a grown man before an’ she might as well kiss and n-word,’ demonstrating that Mayella’s loneliness and curiosity reached such a high point that she, in a white, racist, and traditional community, committed the ultimate offense by trying to kiss a black man. The degree of the offense that she committed is demonstrated by the reaction of her father, Bob Ewell. When he saw the atrocity being committed, he said, ‘’You goddamn whore, I’ll kill ya.” Since this is her own father speaking, saying that he’ll kill her and calling her a whore exhibit how furious and ashamed of her he is. The rest of the racist town of Maycomb’s reaction probably would have been the same; thus, in order to cover up her shame, she accused an innocent black man whom she wronged of rape to turn the tables and blame it on him. The fact that she didn’t even hesitate to accuse Tom of rape, and ruin the lives of his family, shows how she marginalized the black community, including Tom. She treated him as inferior to her, and thus didn’t think twice about destroying him to cover up her stupidity.
Marginalized people cannot receive proper justice in societies where they are pushed aside. Both Tom Robinson and Boo Radley were in situations where their differences from the society could have or did prevent them from receiving full justice. First, Tom Robinson, again, was marginalized by the Ewells. Although this marginalization is devastating, the Ewell family were not the only people who marginalized black people. The vast majority of the white community of Maycomb was also racist, as shown by Tom’s verdict in court, which was guilty, even though Atticus had clearly disproved every one of the prosecution’s points and had even given evidence that the atrocity was committed by none other than Mr. Ewell himself. When Jem and Atticus where discussing the results of the trial on pg. 252, Atticus states, “The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box.’” When Atticus says “square deal,” he means that a courtroom is the main place where anyone deserves a fair trial. However, despite this, “people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box,” meaning that people carry their stereotypes, marginalizations, beliefs, etc. into a jury. Because of this, the one place where people of all types can receive justice equally and have equal power is tarnished by the marginalizations in discriminatory intentions of the jury, which is exhibited by the treatment of Tom Robinson by the jury who tried him. In addition to Tom Robinson, Boo Radley was also dehumanized and marginalized by the society of Maycomb, and Boo Radley could have been a repeat of Tom Robinson. This is demonstrated by how much false gossip there was spread about Boo throughout Maycomb; on pages 11-12, Miss Stephanie, a woman who was known for spreading gossip about people in Maycomb, tells Jem about a crime that Boo committed that is clearly false. She said, “As Mr. Radley passed by, Boo drove the scissors into his parent’s leg, pulled them out, wiped them on his pants, and resumed his activities.” Miss Stephanie is making up false rumors about Boo committing acts of violence against his own father, which is outrageous, and shows how little she and others who gossip about him care about his well- being. Because so many people believed this harmful gossip about Boo, the majority of the community must have believed that Boo was a psychopath, and a murderer, and a violent person, which have been proven as untrue. Thus, again, because people in the juries of Maycomb tend to bring their preconceptions into the courtroom, not giving the defendant a fair deal, if Boo were to be tried for something, it is almost guaranteed that he would not have a fair shot at true justice because of the misconceptions that so many people have about him. Thus, marginalized groups of people are worth fighting for, because no one else is fighting for them, and they deserve justice as much as everybody else.
Thus, Boo Radley and Tom Robinson are prime examples of marginalized groups. First, they were highly contributive to society, kind, and never wronged the society. Second, they are marginalized and mistreated simply because they are different. Lastly, marginalized people cannot receive proper justice in societies where they are pushed aside. It is worth fighting for marginalized people because if we don’t, then no one else is, and their life could be completely ruined if they do not receive proper justice. Marginalized people, like everybody else, deserve to be treated properly and to be given their due respect.
Freshman Accelerated English
Writing Argument Rubric