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There is little question that Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird is an enriching novel. Certainly, one of the reasons that it is rewarding for young people to read is the fact that it is fairly realistic in its presentation of character. While there are reprehensible characters such as Bob Ewell and his pusillanimous daughter Mayella, there are others who gain insights that make a difference in their point of view and offer some hope that people's attitudes have improved. Here are three examples:
1. After the tragic results of the "kangaroo court" trial of Tom Robinson, Atticus notes a glimmer of hope as he discusses the trial with his son Jem, who has remarked that the jury made up their minds quickly:
"No, they didn't....That was the shadow of a beginning. That jury took a few hours. An inevitable verdict, maybe, but usually it takes 'em just a few minutes."
2. Mr. Underwood, the editor of the local newspaper, has been known to dislike "Negroes" for a long time, but evidently he has had a change of heart. After Tom is shot repeatedly by prison guards as he tries to escape, Mr. Underwood becomes so moved that he composes an editorial in his paper decrying the shameful and senseless murder of one such as Tom:
Mr. B.B. Underwod was at his most bitter, and he couldn't have cared less who canceled advertising and subscriptions....Mr. Underwood didn't talk about miscarriages of justice,...[he] simply figured it was a sin to kill cripples, be they standing sitting, or escaping. He likened Tom's death to the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children....
3. Poetic justice is served to the nefarious Bob Ewell. This reprobate who neglects his own children and lives off government welfare checks, purchasing liquor when he should be buying groceries for his motherless children, has decided to avenge himself against Atticus Finch for embarrassing him in court. After spitting in the face of Atticus and failing to induce Atticus to fight, Ewell stalks Scout and Jem with intentions to harm them on the evening following the children's play. And he would have dealt them severe injury except for the intercession of Boo Radley, who struggled with Ewell until the knife with which he intended to harm the children went into the man's chest, killing Ewell.
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