Lessons from To Kill a Mockingbird

Breanna Roen, Staff Writer

Most people are suckers for stories about living, learning and growing up. I, myself, am one of those suckers. A story of lessons learned, memories kept and the most important rule: never kill a mockingbird.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” was written in 1963, and the acts that are shown throughout this book can still be seen today. The story talks about a young girl named Scout who is 6 years-old. Scout is currently trying to do 6 year-old things: hang out with her brother Jem, go to school, and dare her and her friends to touch the Radley House.

The Radley house is home to the mysterious Boo Radley. Boo Radley has never been seen outside his home and Scout thinks she should be scared of him. This story proves to hold many mysteries and lessons to be learned. I think we could also learn a couple lessons from this story so I would like to take the time to review them.

Lesson number one:  put yourself into others’ shoes.

Many of us can relate to this lesson. No matter how approachable or apprehensive someone may be, we do not know what is currently going on within their personal life or in their own headspace.

In relation to this book, we can look at Boo Radley’s past. Boo got into trouble when he was younger. He was causing crude and absurd behavior like getting into fights, hurting animals and a list of other offenses. His father decided to lock him into the house and never allow him out. Boo takes a liking to the kids and leaves them pennies and candy and fixes their clothes also. His father is now dead, but Boo still doesn’t leave the house. That is one lesson Atticus Finch had taught us well, put yourself into others shoes.

Lesson number two is: don’t kill mockingbirds.

Atticus who is Scout and Jem’s father give them air rifles to shoot at birds. His only rule is to not shoot mockingbirds because they do no harm to anyone. Mockingbird is also a metaphor for a person. This means that the person is quiet and means no harm, so to “kill a mockingbird” is to kill someone who means no harm.

Lesson number three: Keep fighting for what you believe in even if you know you are going to lose.

Atticus is a defense lawyer in town but doesn’t make very much money because many of his clients are poor. Tom Robinson, one of the only black people in town is accused of raping a white woman. Atticus hears out Tom’s story and in court, Tom says the white woman tried to seduce him and her father saw and beat her for being with a black man.

Atticus knew an all white court and jury wouldn’t believe him but he fought as long and as hard as he could because he knew it was the right thing. The children were also very sad about the outcome but they were proud of their dad for standing up for what he knew was right.

Lastly, lesson number four: the world is very unfair.

Many of us in our everyday lives have learned this lesson the hard way. Between deaths in families, broken items and bonds and a variety of many other misfortunes. I can not tell much about this lesson in relation to the book because it would give away a very crucial and important part to the story. You will have to pick up the book to read and figure out this lesson for yourself.

These characters are very relatable and easy to understand. Generations across the nation have found this book to be timeless and teachers use this book to teach these life lessons along with reading a classic book. The author Harper Lee recently passed away and it sparked a huge resurgence in the interest of this novel.

I remember reading this novel in 8th grade and enjoying it, and I recently picked up the book again following Harper Lee’s death. This book hits home and years later I am still able to recall all the names and how cool of a dad I thought Atticus was. If you haven’t read this book yet for class or for enjoyment I encourage you this be the first book you pick up at your earliest convenience.

Lessons do not have to be taught by family to have a lasting impact on your thinking, actions and emotions.

Breanna Roen is an opinion writer for  The Dakota Student. She can be reached at  [email protected]