In To Kill a Mockingbird, what are some examples for the importance of looking beyond appearances?

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The most significant example of looking beyond appearances is Boo Radley. In the beginning of the story, he is viewed as a phantom, a murderer, a peeping tom, and a psychotic man. However, by the time chapter 28 rolls around, readers learn that an unnamed hero has saved Jem. As the chapters continue to unfold the resolution of the story, readers find that this Boo Radley character took out the bad guy, saved Jem's life, showed genuine care for the kids' well-being throughout the book (as Scout recalls their experiences with Boo on his front porch), and befriended Scout. He was actually a shy and caring individual who had been well misunderstood.

Other smaller examples include Miss Caroline Fisher, Mayella Ewell, and the Missionary Society.

Miss Caroline enters the story in chapter 2. She thinks she will understand these kids, but she is different than them. She comes from a city-like society. She doesn't understand the nuances of life in Maycomb. Burris Ewell would only come to school on the first day. Walter Cunningham would not take money from anyone. To her, these kids first appeared like just a group of students ready to be taught, but in reality, they were people with very significant reasons for not being the students she wanted to teach.

Mayella Ewell appeared to be a less than respectable character throughout her testimony in the trial. However, the 7 geraniums in the Ewell yard proved otherwise. She had the ability to care. She wanted to live better than she could, but she was trapped. She tried to take care of herself. Mayella's heart may have been in the right place trying to protect her father, but he was a bad man. (Chapters 18-20)

The Missionary Society was probably the most disgusting failed appearance. When we see words like missionary, we expect someone who has chosen to give their life in service to others. These women purport to do what is right by giving to a missionary, but they used their entire meeting to gossip and be hypocrites. (Chapter 24)

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