How does To Kill a Mockingbird show that change can be resisted and on the other hand, can be slowly accepted by others?
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Scout herself is a great example of how the there can often be a resistance to change. Scouts asks her father why the “n” word should not be used. Her father explains that it is common language, and is demeaning. Scout initially resists, and feels that is unfair that she cannot use the term. At the beginning of the novel, Scout merely reflects the racist views of her town. However, as the novel progresses, she challenges these views, and eventually accepts change in a much more effective way than other adults in the town.
Certainly, Mr. Cunningham resists any change in the social order and conventional attitudes of Maycomb until little Scout talks to him when the mob comes to the jailhouse and threatens Atticus. After Scout singles him out to talk with him, Mr. Cunningham begins to think as an individual; he breaks from the mob, and he does not follow the others on the jury in the trial of Tom Robinson.
In addition to Mr. Cunningham, the editor of the newspaper, who has held no love for Negroes, changes in his attitude when he sees Atticus threatened by the mob because he is the defense attorney for Tom. Recognizing the injustice of this act, Mr. Underwood points a gun defensively at the men for Atticus. After the trial, he writes an eloquent editorial decrying the injustice of Tom's trial.
The biggest manifestation of resistance in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbirdis evident in a collective, and not in an individual, way. The town, as a whole resists to accept that Tom Robinson may be innocent. Also the town, as a whole, refuses to see the Ewells for what they really are in terms of how they are openly and flat out lying in a court of law. Instead, they stick to their old beliefs and tendencies. Change is a scary subject no matter how deeply it buries the town philosophically speaking.
However, change is evident in each individual who takes a step forward to embrace it. Change slowly evolves in Atticus, in Cal, in Scout, Jem, and Dill. Slowly we see that, although it is indeed hard to get through, change does happen. It is just a matter of how it touches the hearts of each person. Change is seldom a collective act.
There are lots of instances of resistance to change in this book. These range from big things (like a resistance to changing the racial dynamics of the community) to relatively little ones (like the resistance Miss Caroline's new style of teaching). So the resistance can be seen in all kinds of people, from the other teachers to Mrs. Dubose or the men who want to lynch Tom Robinson.
Acceptance of change is harder to see. We might see it in little ways in people like Heck Tate. You can argue that Tate hid Boo's role in Bob Ewell's death because he felt bad about his role in convicting Tom. Judge Taylor might be showing his acceptance of change and his belief that blacks should be treated better when he appoints Atticus to defend Tom. There are little moves like that which might be seen as a very gradual acceptance of change in this novel.
People are creatures of habit. Routines are a part of life. Although change is inevitable, some people do not change with ease. Depending upon one's personality and attitude, some are affected by parents more easily than others and parents shape the lives of their children.
Truly, parents do shape their children's lives. Scout is fortunate that her father taught her to respect all people. He even taught her to respect those who were negative toward her.
Depending upon one's upbringing, change will be accepted or refused. Atticus raises his children to respect diversity at a time when diversity was not appreciated or in some cases tolerated.
When Scout comes home telling her father that people are saying he should not defend the black man, he tells her to remain level headed:
He tells Scout to keep her cool no matter what anyone says, and fight with her head, not her hands. Scout asks if he's going to win the case and Atticus says no, but "simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win." He tells her that no matter what happens, the people of Maycomb are still their friends, and this is still their town.
In this passage, Atticus states that racism has been around a hundred years, but still one must try to change others for the better.
Obviously, To Kill A Mockingbird has made a difference and attempted to change many hearts for it is widely read.
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