In To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee tells the life of people in the 1930’s. Lee uses mockingbirds to symbolize virtue. Mockingbirds do not cause destruction on people, instead they sing beautifully. Unlike several other birds, mockingbirds are innocent and should not be killed. Tom Robinson shares this characteristic of innocence as well. Tom is considerate of other people, whether they are white or black. Because Tom Robinson helped Mayella, is a hard worker, and does not harm anyone, he symbolizes innocence.
Tom is a selfless man; whenever Mayella needs help he is the only person who will. Even though Tom is a colored man, he feels sorry for Mayella, who is white. Because of this, people are livid at him since whites have a much better life. While Tom is on trial, he does not want to say that Mayella is a liar; instead he says “I say she’s mistaken in her mind”. (p.167)
Fighting is something that Tom does not get involved in, unless provoked. In his previous arrest for a brawl, Tom was only defending himself. While Mayella was on Tom, he did not push her off because he did not want to harm her. He would rather be seen with her and possibly get shot then to knock her down and try to run. Tom treated people with respect, Scout said, “It occurred to me that in their own way, Tom Robinson’s manners were as good as Atticus’s”. (p.165) Tom is a good guy, but many people turn their heads just because of his race.
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Tom also spent prior time in jail on charges of disorderly conduct. He had been in a fight with another black man. Tom is a perfect scapegoat for Mayella and her father because of his record. In addition, they are both aware that the majority of jury would take a white woman's word against that of a black man.
The mockingbird is also a symbol for Boo Radley. Boo is a shy man who has hidden away from society. The people, including Atticus’ children, make fun of Boo and put on plays or make jokes abut him being something to fear. In truth Boo is a gentle and giving man.
A few notes:
- You only have a one sentence introduction; I would develop this more. Provide more social context before discussing Tom.
- Discuss more about mockingbirds before mentioning Tom as well. I'm not sure they symbolize virtue: more like innocence. They are not pests, like blue jays.
- You have a lot of "be" verbs ("is"), which breed simple sentences. Vary your verb choice by using more "action" verbs.
- You have a run-on/comma splice: "Mockingbirds do not cause destruction on people, instead they sing beautifully."
- I don't discern a clear thesis: it should involve Tom, certainly, and possibly aspects of Atticus' case.
- You end the first paragraph with a quote; best to end with your words--namely a thesis statement which discusses 2 or 3 main ideas.
- You begin the second paragraph with a negative idea. Does Tom ever provoke a fight? I would rework it and put a better idea out front.
- Try to find better vocabulary: words like "things" and "anyone" are vague. Be more specific.
Best of luck in your revisions.
The previous poster didn't "discern a clear thesis." The other comments by that poster are really good, but this one I feel called to comment on. There's a clear thesis statement at the end of the first paragraph: "Because Tom Robinson helped Mayella, is a hard worker, and does not harm anyone, he symbolizes innocence."
This three-part thesis statement leads me to expect you to go on and develop these three ideas -- helped Mayella, worked hard, and harmed noone -- in that order in the body of the essay.
To me, the section on helping Mayella needs more content. In at least one other section, you give a quotation from the text (as well as page numbers in parentheses, which is great!). I recommend adding a quotation to the first body paragraph; consider taking one of Tom's statement from his testimony. He did all sorts of things for Mayella without asking for anything in return. Some other teachers may thing differently, but I like to see students use a good number of quotations in their essays -- maybe one per paragraph. The quotations should be well selected and short, of course; they shouldn't take over the essay. You don't have to quote full sentences, of course; you can quote short phrases and weave them into your own sentences. The link given below gives some examples of brief, in-text quotations.
You have a pretty good start here. The first suggestion would be to follow up with developing you thesis. You provide a good 3 part thesis: "Because Tom Robinson helped Mayella, is a hard worker, and does not harm anyone, he symbolizes innocence." Now use this thesis to start each new paragraph. Remember even though the 5 paragraph essay is not the only acceptable essay format, it is the most common.
I had some issues with this paragraph. It could use a little clearification. Grammar seems to be the root of a little confusion. "Tom is a selfless man; whenever Mayella needs help he is the only person who will. Change the ; to a : b/c you are providing an example.
Even though Tom is a colored man, he feels sorry for Mayella, who is white. Remove the comma.
Because of this, people are livid at him since whites have a much better life. You might choose to begin your sentence another way. You are repeating the same sentence structure. Also, add the word perceived or a synonym of it. The novel demonstrates this invalid opinion.
I hope you have found some good suggestions on this page. Good luck!
I would also suggest that you rewrite on final draft and leave out as many of the be verbs: is, am, are, was, were, be, being, and been since they add no power or vividness to your essay. Make sure that while you are expressing your opinions and supporting it with detail from the text that you also explain the relevance or importance of your evidence.
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