Homework Help

Outsiders and Hatred in "To Kill a Mockingbird"Maycomb is a physical reflection of all...

user profile pic

vll1 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 26, 2008 at 11:16 PM via web

dislike 1 like
Outsiders and Hatred in "To Kill a Mockingbird"

Maycomb is a physical reflection of all the hatreds felt by people within To Kill a Mockingbird. Why are outsiders (Boo Radley, Tom Robinson, Mayella Ewell, and even Scout herself) so important to the novel and its story?

4 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

spottedslinky | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted October 27, 2008 at 2:59 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

What I see as a link you could use for answering this essay question is the connection of all these characters to hate. I believe the connection is fear. Boo is fearful of normal society because of his special personality, which is generally not accepted. Tom is fearful of the prejudice and cruelty shown against his race. In his case it does not lead him to hate others, however. Mayella directs her hatred at Tom because she fears her abusive father. And Scout, brave as she is, fears growing up as a girl. She is untraditional, and fears the changes her family and culture are asking her to make will erase her unique personality. It is the way each of these characters deals with the hatred and fear surrounding them that makes them important, because they help reveal that "reflection." 

Look at what the characters do, say and observe. Look also at what the other characters' response is. Good luck.

user profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 27, 2008 at 6:54 AM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

Every story needs more than just the main characters to get across the message of the author.  The "foil" characters bring out the best or worst qualities in the main characters, and help the reader understand those characters to a deeper degree.  Connections between themes, etc. are easier when these qualities are magnified by supporting characters.

user profile pic

morrol | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted October 29, 2008 at 12:51 PM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

A good lens to use in discussing this idea is to consider Hegel's ideas on the self and the other.

Noticing the lack of unity and the separation or segregation of characters points to this duality.

user profile pic

Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 18, 2009 at 3:33 PM (Answer #5)

dislike 0 like
Outsiders and Hatred in "To Kill a Mockingbird"

Maycomb is a physical reflection of all the hatreds felt by people within To Kill a Mockingbird. Why are outsiders (Boo Radley, Tom Robinson, Mayella Ewell, and even Scout herself) so important to the novel and its story?

Boo, Tom, Mayella, and Scout share this trait in common: innocence. This is an important link among them because the destruction of helpless innocents is such an important theme in the novel. Even the title points to it. Atticus tells Jem not to shoot mockingbirds because they, essentially, are innocent; they do no harm.

Despite how the children view him in the novel's beginning, Boo threatens no one. In fact, it is he who saves the children. Tom is an honest, hard working husband and father whose only sin is trying to help Mayella out of kindness. Mayella's innocence is destroyed by her drunken father, pushing her into making a terrible accusation. Scout's innocence is lost as she is initiated into some of the uglier aspects of human nature.

Boo, Tom, Mayella, and Scout are all innocent and defenseless at various points in the novel, and all are attacked, in one way or another.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes