What are some minor conflicts in To Kill a Mockingbird and what are their thematic significances?

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iandavidclark3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Most folks are familiar with the main conflict of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and the famous trial scene that goes along with it. However, there are other, smaller conflicts that happen throughout the book that are less well known, but that also have important thematic significance. One of these conflicts occurs toward the beginning, when Scout is rebuked for being a good reader and ahead of most of the class when she begins attending school. It might not have the far-reaching implications of the Tom Robinson trial, but Scout's conflict in the classroom is nonetheless important, as it functions as Lee's critique of the public school system. Rather than presenting public school as a place of education, Lee instead presents it as a place burdened by bureaucracy that stifles children's learning. Most readers often overlook this important theme, moving right along to the novel's depictions of race and racism. The main conflict against racism is obviously important, but so is Lee's educational conflict, as it reveals the ways in which children are encouraged to be ignorant and receive little real education. 

There are many more, smaller conflicts in the novel dealing with topics as diverse as class, reputation, gender, and more. I'd encourage you to read the novel carefully to see how many you can find, as the book truly is a sweeping representation and critique of American society in general. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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