A great deal of people in the world today have a habit of making generalizations about certain people, without knowing them fully. People often lack information about their assumptions; which are based on they may have read, seen on television or in the media, or have heard from other people. Due to these beliefs in stereotypes, people end up developing prejudices against others. Most of the time things really aren’t what they seem. The novel, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, is a significant example of this.
Jem and Scout Finch grew up in the 1930’s, in Maycomb, a town that’s extremely prejudice towards a lot of different people, but also a town that was oblivious to the fact that people are much different from the interior than they are on the exterior. Jem and Scout, and the people of Maycomb make conclusions about the ones around them quite often, so, naturally, when they learn the truths about these people, they are very surprised. This should help all people understand that people can deceive you, negatively or positively, and they should not be prejudged.
Jem and Scout learn new and different things about many of the characters in the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. When the children’s maid, Calpurnia, takes them with her to Church, Calpurnia shows them a different side of her character. In this new setting of Maycomb’s African-American community, Calpurnia surprises the children by speaking in a voice they’ve never heard her use before. So, Scout asks “Why do you talk nigger-talk to your folks when you know it’s not right? ” Calpurnia responds by saying “Suppose you and Jem talked colored-folks’ talk at home. It’d be out of place, wouldn’t it?
Now what if I talked white-folk’s talk at church, and with my neighbors? They’d think I was puttin’ on airs to beat Moses. ” Seeing Calpurnia in an African-American community causes Scout to realize for the first time that Cal actually ‘continues to exist’ when she’s not at the Finch house. “The fact that Calpurnia led a modest double life never dawned on me. The idea that she had a separate existence outside our household was a novel one, to say nothing of her having command of two languages. ” Scout had the idea that Calpurnia didn’t have much of a life outside of working for the Finches.
She realized that Calpurnia in fact did, and that she was being prejudiced the entire time. Atticus Finch, the children’s father, was probably one of the kindest people in Maycomb, and he cared very much about his children, and the protection of others. He had once given his children air rifles and told them that it was a sin to kill a mockingbird. Though, people didn’t really understand or respect his way of kindness. Even his own children thought of him as a coward because he didn’t like hunting. Little did they know that when he was a young man, he used to have the best shot of the town.
He had a talent for hitting a target in just one shot, giving himself the nickname of One-Shot-Finch. But he never boasted about his success. Only when Atticus had to kill a mad dog did the children learn about his secret. He could use a weapon when necessary, but in general he believed it was wrong to kill or shoot at any living things. Miss Maudie explains this, saying, “I guess he decided he wouldn’t shoot till he had to, and he had to today. ” The children are shocked about his father. They always thought of him as a milquetoast person, not realizing he was only displaying model behavior.
Mrs. Dubose was a sour character that Jem and Scout hated, and described as ‘Plain Hell. ‘ Despite being confined to a wheelchair most of the time, she had the power to inspire rage and fear just through the power of her words. Even her appearance alone was enough to gross Scout out. For the children, Mrs. Dubose is eventually a force that takes over their afternoons after Jem goes crazy and destroys her camellia bushes on her lawn. It’s not until after she dies that Scout and Jem get a sense of what is going on under the drool and venom. Mrs.
Dubose is a morphine addict who had vowed to go clean before she died, and had only had Jem and Scout come over for all of those afternoons to distract her from taking more morphine. Atticus tells the children that he hopes they’ve learned a lesson from her death. “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her.
According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew. ” Jem feels very guilty after she dies and learning this lesson from Atticus, showing that he learned whom the real Mrs. Dubose was the hard way. Whether it is the 1930’s or modern day 2010, people have always leaped to conclusions about people without truly knowing who they are. Throughout To Kill a Mockingbird, Jem and Scout are faced with situations dealing with this issue. But every time, when the true person is revealed, it is always a shock. Everything is truly not what it seems. How do I end with a bang?!