Essay help on To Kill a Mockingbird:Hi, i have to write an essay on TKMB, but I am stumped right now and having difficulty getting started. My topic is Social Inequality but I cannot think of a...

Essay help on To Kill a Mockingbird:

Hi, i have to write an essay on TKMB, but I am stumped right now and having difficulty getting started. My topic is Social Inequality but I cannot think of a thesis. If you can help me, can you also provide 3 points that i can talk about in the body of the essay? Thank you in advance :) all answers are appreciated.

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is always good to take notes and mark important passages when the student knows he will be assigned an essay on a novel.  For, then, the student can look back at these notes; without such notes the student must reexamine any study questions, etc. to find the ideas that are questioned, and seek passages that are significant.

Regarding the theme of Social Inequality, the reader has discerned that with the setting of the 1930s there is certainly racial segregation in Maycomb, Alabama.  And, with the Great Depression going on, the lower classes of Maycomb are desperately poor, while even the well-to-do such as the attorney, Atticus Finch, whose clients cannot afford to pay him is financially hurt.  

Thus, there is a class stratum established in To Kill a Mockingbird:

  • well-to-do whites, descended from plantation owners, such as the Finches
  • fairly well off (the South in the 1930s did not really have a true middle class) such as the Mrs. Dubose and Miss Maudie
  • poor, but decent whites such as the Cunninghams
  • poor "white trash" such as the Ewells
  • blacks, who are mostly poor.

Now that this is put down, a thesis, or general statment can be made.  Perhaps, something as simple as writing that in Maycomb there is a social stratum for all citizens that contains certain mores for these citizens as well as boundaries that must never be crossed.

In the body of the essay, supporting details that explain the stratum can be provided, pointing to the exceptions, as well, that disturb people and disrupt the stratum (e.g. Mr. Raymond Dolphus's living with the blacks, Calpurnia's taking the children to her church).  Then, develop the topic of the unwritten boundaries (remember Atticus's saying "Maycomb's usual disease"?) by referring to the second part of the novel which is developed as the trial brings out some of the words and feelings and conditions that are "taboo" for certain members of the town's society.

Always remember to "tie the bow" on the essay by rewording the thesis and major points in the conclusion.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You may also want to consider the questions of gender bias and women's rights in To Kill a Mockingbird. Women did not hold fully equal status with men during 1930s Alabama; they were not allowed to serve on juries, for example. Harper Lee's characterizations of her women characters are quite harsh for the most part. Aside from Miss Maudie, most of the women are lacking in positive qualities. Most are single (or, in Aunt Alexandra's case, a hen-pecking wife). Scout's teachers are flawed and show bias against other students and races. Miss Stephanie is a terrible gossip; Miss Rachel drinks secretly; Alexandra considers her own family upbringing far too highly. The women of the Missionary Circle are gossips and bigots who meet under the guise of goodness.