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We might borrow a phrase made more prominent by Hillary Clinton for this discussion, "It takes a village to raise a child." Consider all of the characters in this novel who have a vested interest in raising the children-Atticus, Calpernia, Aunt Alexandra, Boo Radley. The list goes on and on. What cannot be denied is that these children are the product of the loving individuals who provide guidance to them in various ways. They are also a product of the bad influences, and one can only hope that, in their growing up years, the positive influences outweigh the bad.
Another extremely important theme that prevails throughout Harper Lee's novel is that character is formed at home. Scout and Jem develop into the objective, understanding, forthright, and honest young people that they do because of the example and discipline given to them by Atticus, their father, and their surrogate mothers, Calpunrina, and Miss Maudie. This novel reinforces the importance of good parenting.
Many other issues in this book are still relevant today. Poverty, for example, is still a real problem. We also see some interesting aspects of parenting (as well as single parenting) that are still relevant. We see how different Scout and Jim are because their father's ideals are different from most people at the time period. He shows his children to treat all people with respect regardless of their color or social status. This book shows the value and power of great parenting.
Another relevant issue of this novel is the difference between physical courage and mental/emotional courage. Both types of courage are important at different times, but it is important that we try to possess both. It takes physical courage to try skiing for the first time or to face down a bully, but it takes mental courage to make the choice to do the right thing, even if it isn't the popular thing. We are faced with those kinds of dilemmas on a daily basis in our lives.
Beyond the issues of prejudice mentioned in the first post, this book is about individual-level attitudes that are as present now as they ever have been. I am talking about people's tendency to look down on others and to harm those who are vulnerable.
We human beings seem to have this desire to bully the weak. This tendency is shown quite clearly in this book. The book speaks to the idea that we have these desires but that we should try to overcome them. We should try to see and treat others as our equals. This is a timeless message.
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