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To Kill a Mockingbird is filled with diverse characters who reach out through the pages to grab readers. Part of what drives our care for the characters in this book is that everyone is filtered through the innocent eyes of a young girl. Tom Robinson is the obvious example of a character we care about because of the injustice done to him. Tom isn't just a man who is unjustly accused of rape. He's accused because he's black and that makes him an easy scapegoat. We care about him because Atticus shows Scout why we should care. We see examples of racism throughout the book, but it's not until Tom is accused that it really hits the reader. Tom did nothing wrong. He was trying to help Mayella Ewell and for that was accused of raping her. We get to see Tom as a real person, not just a black man Atticus is expected to save.
Mayella Ewell is another character that draws the reader in because we want to hate her. We know she's lying about Tom, but it's not that simple. Because the reader gets to see the life she lives and we hear about her awful family life, we feel sorry for her. We know she's lying because she feels she needs to. She is the cause for the injustice against Tom, but because we sympathize with her and she has had injustice done to her as well, we can understand.
The fact that Harper Lee drew such amazing and realistic characters is what makes readers care about the injustices in the book. If the characters were simply names on a page without being fleshed out with lives and families and backstories, it would be easier to dismiss the injustice.
When characters are developed well, we can relate with them on many levels. We see ourselves in them. Moreover, we aspire to be like some characters and want to avoid others. We are also able to see their blind spots, weaknesses, hypocrisy, and courage.
In the novel we can clearly see the injustices of Maycomb. The town is filled with blind hate. There is great racism there. This is not only true for characters like Bob Ewell, but also the ordinary citizens of the town. For example, the women of the missionary society are racists and they don't even know it. Scout's teacher speaks of the evils of Hitler and his unjust treatment of the Jews, but she does not see the racism in her own backyard.
These characters show us the injustices that exist.
That said, we can also empathize with Tom Robinson and his family. By reading the book, we see that they are real people, real people who have feelings, rights, and hardships.
In conclusion, the characters allow us to see, feel, and care for many issues; in To Kill a Mockingbird, injustice is one of the main issues.
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