To Kill a Mockingbird – Critical Response Essay

948 Words Feb 4th, 2011 4 Pages
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is a novel cleverly written by Harper Lee to depict the prejudicial, discriminative and racist attitudes of white society in Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930’s. Maycomb at first glance seems to be a warm and gentle place. However, as the novel progresses, the backdrop of slavery, racism and poverty as a result of the Great Depression becomes prevalent.
Lee explores various themes such as the symbol of the mocking bird as a metaphor for innocence , social justice issues such as racism and prejudice and the everyday attitudes of people living in small Deep South towns such as Maycomb. She successfully uses a variety of language techniques including irony, satire, humour and the use of metaphors and colloquial language
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However, differences even in colloquial language can be noted between white and black society. Calpurnia, a black housemaid looking after Scout and Jem, shows this very clearly, using ‘White man’s language’ when in their company and changing to ‘black man’s jargon’ when in the company of backs. This divide in language is used to emphasise the divide in society between the two cultures.
Language is successfully used in the novel to develop personas and characterization. An example of this is the way that the Ewell’s use of foul language as they address others, showing their poor education and social standing. Again, irony is created here when Bob Ewell asserts himself better than a black man yet Tom Robinson speaks far more politely and without foul language. Mayella shows an extreme lack of education in her speech as she struggles to find the right words to express herself clearly.

Atticus, on the other hand, uses formal language of a high standard and incorporates metaphors, irony and humour in a way that is impressive and often subtle. This is used to develop his persona as a highly respectful, open- minded, moral man.
Various themes such as discrimination, prejudice, and social justice are incorporated into this novel. The racist and often illogical prejudices of white society against black society ties into the theme of social justice, a prime example being the

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