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In To Kill a Mockingbird, what does justice and courage show about society in...

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lalala07 | Student | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted November 21, 2009 at 9:40 AM via web

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In To Kill a Mockingbird, what does justice and courage show about society in Maycomb?

I'm writing an essay and my thesis statement is: 
"Justice and courage shows ___?___ about society in Maycomb through Mrs. Dubose, Atticus's actions, and Miss Gate's opinions."
I REALLY need HELP with this because my essay is due MONDAY.
Please help me with this.

Thank you

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 21, 2009 at 10:26 AM (Answer #1)

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    How about trying "Justice and courage show ambiguous ramifications about society in Maycomb through Mrs. Dubose, Atticus's actions, and Miss Gates' opinions."
    I use the term "ambiguous ramifications" because although there are quite a few examples of courageous actions in To Kill a Mockingbird, justice is not often served in the story. Additionally, the actions of the three characters you mention are quite diverse. Atticus is a nearly perfect example of fair-minded, socially conscious manhood, the one man in Maycomb that virtually everyone can look up to. Miss Gates portrays a young and naive teacher with condescending attitudes and an over-educated, modern view in a not-so-modern town; she is looked upon in a mostly negative manner. Mrs. Dubose has both good and bad qualities, showing great courage to kick her morphine habit before she dies; she is also the most hated woman on the block because of her nasty disposition and subjective views.
    Atticus shows courage in many ways, particularly in taking on the Tom Robinson case, knowing it will bring antagonistic reactions from the town toward him and his family. He stands up to the lynch mob, to Bob Ewell, and to his sister who condemns him for his bad parenting. Mrs. Dubose's courage stems primarily from her strong will to beat the morphine. Miss Caroline shows little courage at all, other than a willingness to try and adapt her new educational ideas in the somewhat backward town of Maycomb.
    Maycomb's sense of justice is lacking at most every turn. Tom Robinson is falsely charged, found guilty, and then killed. Negroes are blamed for most of Maycomb's unsolved problems. Atticus is hated for defending an innocent, albeit Negro, man. Dolphus Raymond is considered an oddity because he treats Negroes fairly. Boo Radley is an outcast in his own home, scorned by his family and his neighbors for a minor crime committed as a youth.
    I hope this gives you some ideas, but it might be easier to alter your thesis statement somewhat. You might also want to include examples of justice and courage from other characters in the novel beside the three you mention. Don't forget the children--they exhibit many examples of both ideals.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 21, 2009 at 10:35 AM (Answer #2)

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Why do you not reword your thesis statement to something like this;

Throughout the narrative of Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird," the courage, integrity, and sense of fairness of several characters demonstrates the decency in certain citizens of Maycomb. (Certainly,not every citizen is of sterling quality.) 

Always the thesis statement should be generalized.  The details of which person does what is part of the support that composes the body of your essay.  For instance, if you use courage in the topic sentence of the first sentence of the body, you can write--Courage is manifested in such characters as Mrs. Dubose, Miss Maudie, and Atticus Finch.  Then, you give reasons that prove the courage of these characters. (supporting details from the novel)  Be sure to actually quote some lines/passages as back-up for your sentences that explain the courage of a particular character.  By the way, do not forget the courage of Boo Radley, a courage generated by his love for the children.

Integrity is exhibited mostly by Atticus Finch who does not shy from his obligations, but even Mr. Cunningham has this attribute because he refuses welfare, and he later is ashamed that he is part of the mob; after Scout says hello to him, he tells the others to go home and the mob breaks up.  Miss Maudie also has integrity.

Before you write your essay, plan it out by locating the necessary support.  Be very specific with this support and use lines/passages from the novel to back up this support.  The more specific support that you have, the more convincing your essay will be.  Be sure to use transitional words such as for example, for instance, etc.

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