Thematic Analysis

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Thematic analysis -Good, Evil, and Human Dignity- To Kill a Mockingbird is largely remembered of in terms of the trial of Tom Robinson and its racist outcome. For this reason, people often think that the book's theme is simple, a straightforward criticism of racism and evil. But To Kill a Mockingbird is actually more complicated (and interesting). Except in the case of Bob Ewell, the novel avoids simple portrayals and criticisms of "evil." Instead, it shows through Scout and Jem's experiences that Maycomb and its citizens are a complicated mixture of good and bad, full of people with strengths and weaknesses. There are two characters of almost complete good in To Kill a Mockingbird: Atticus and Boo Radley. But they are good in different ways. Boo maintains his goodness by hiding from the world, while Atticus engages with it. Atticus acknowledges the evil in people and the world and fights against that evil, but he also appreciates what is good in the very same people who through fault or weakness might be supporting an evil cause. Atticus believes that everyone has a basic human dignity, and that he therefore owes each person not only respect, but the effort to try to understand their point of view. Atticus tries to instill this worldview in Scout when he tells her that instead of condemning people for doing things that she thinks are cruel, or unfair, or just plain weird, she should first try "standing in their skin." -Courage- Many people, including Jem and Scout when they're young, mix up courage with strength. They think that courage is the ability and willingness to use strength to get your way. But Atticus defines courage as "when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what." Courage, in To Kill a Mockingbird, is not about winning or losing. It's about thinking long and hard about what's right
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