I need a thesis statement about prejudice, courage and racism in To Kill a Mockingbird and the development of characters in the novel. My characters are Atticus and Scout. The essay question is:...

I need a thesis statement about prejudice, courage and racism in To Kill a Mockingbird and the development of characters in the novel.

My characters are Atticus and Scout.

The essay question is:

How does harper lee use the development of characters to convey significant ideas in the novel TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As a bildungsroman, a novel concerned with the development, education, and maturation of a young protagonist, To Kill a Mockingbird portrays an innocent Scout, who is eventually exposed to school, a veranda with a vituperative old woman, a church unlike her own, ladies' teas, mob scenes, courtroom trials, injustice, and raw hatred. Throughout the different challenges that Scout experiences, Atticus, her father, provides guidance and advice for his daughter. Consequently, Scout becomes wiser, more charitable, and more mature.

A thesis statement is the expression of the main idea of an essay. The driving points of Scout's maturation are her experiences that challenge her preconceived ideas or her lack of knowledge about others. With her father to advise and guide her about these experiences, Scout matures and acquires reasonable judgments. Therefore, a thesis statement that can express how Atticus guides Scout through her experiences will be effective. For example, students could compose something like the following: the character of Scout develops as she learns, from her father's words and brave actions, the dangers and implications of prejudging people, the importance of integrity and courage, and the evils of racism. 

e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Another way to pose this question is to ask how Scout and Atticus relate to the ideas of prejudice, racism, and courage in their development in the novel.

Scout demonstrates a growing awareness of the unfairness and injustice that is indemic to her society, yet resists any agreement with these tendencies. Early in the novel she is quick to judgement (see the example of her treatment of the young Cunningham) and participant in popular bias and prejudice.

As the novel goes on, Scout learns from her experiences and from Atticus that prejudice is often misguided and wrong-headed and that defeating poor judgement takes moral effort. Prejudice will not defeat itself. People have to do the work of changing their own behavior and their own thinking, then demonstrate those changes. 

Atticus provides an example of how this is done. Scout follows his lead. 

From her treatment of Walter Cunningham to her final understanding of Boo Radley, Scout demonstrates that her development has taken place along moral lines. 

kkuhn65 | Student

As you take apart the writing prompt, you have to first decide what are the ideals in the novel. You have listed racism, prejudice, and courage.  Then you are to discuss HOW Lee uses character development to bring these to light.

Which characters that develop throughout the novel display prejudice?  Consider Jem and Mrs. Dubois.  Did he like her to begin with?  Was he prejudiced against her?  How does that change as his character develops?

An interesting way to bring all of this together might be to frame it on Joe South's "Walk a Mile in My Shoes." The characters that bring racism, prejudice, and courage to light are those that appear to walk a mile in the shoes of those they thought of one way to begin with, but now have developed to think differently.  

As always, borrow from the prompt to be on track:

Harper Lee brings x, y, and z ideas to light through....


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To Kill a Mockingbird

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